June 21, 2012 | Graham

What’s Fairfax worth to Australians?

Dr Joseph Toscano may be an anarchist, but he’s interested in some collective action on Fairfax. The plan is to get enough Australians to invest $100 in Fairfax shares that they can stop Gina Rinehart buying or controlling it.

I’m not sure how he thinks this works. To effectively control a company you don’t need 100%, or even in reality 50%. Rinehart has potential allies such as fund managers Allan Gray, who own 9% of Fairfax, and there are other disgruntled large shareholders. So at the moment she has a potential block of at least 27%, with other large shareholders likely to fall into line. She might not be that far off control as it is.

Dr Toscano would need 10% to stop a takeover (assuming Rinehart is interested in that), which would mean finding 1,387,653.88 Australians who agreed with him and were prepared to stump up the readies. Given that one of the problems that Fairfax faces is that they can’t get a much more modest readership to pa a large enough cover price to maintain the newspapers, that seems a little quixotic.

Given that the SMH sells 340,000 copies of their Saturday edition (the largest edition by sales) and The Age 275,000, the figures also seem improbable.

To exercise control he would need even more. He might be better-off trying to find some left-wing would-be Beaverbrooks to stump up significantly more. But then why would they?

As it appears that the metropolitan dailies are heading towards blogdom, you could start a new masthead for less than the hundreds of millions of dollars involved in fighting for control of Fairfax.

If you’re interested in being part of Dr Toscano’s scheme, then you can contact him on people@communitysavesfairfax.com or 0439 395 489, or by visiting his website www.communitysavesfairfax.com.

Posted by Graham at 1:07 pm | Comments Off on What’s Fairfax worth to Australians? |
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