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Fairfax shares down at open


Fairfax Media shares have fallen to new closing low after its largest shareholder Gina Rinehart threatened to sell out of the beleaguered newspaper publisher.

Fairfax closed down two cents, or 3.5 per cent, at 55 cents. This compares with around $4.50 in mid 2007.

The mining magnate and world's richest woman holds 18 per cent of the media company's share registry and has been seeking as many as three board seats.

Mrs Rinehart and the Fairfax board are at an impasse over the mining magnate's refusal to sign the media company's charter of independence.

Mrs Rinehart's privately held Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd (HPPL) said the mining magnate had hoped to be viewed by the Fairfax board as a "successful business person and a necessary white knight with mutual interest in a sustainable Fairfax".

"However, unless director positions are offered without unsuitable conditions, Mrs Rinehart is unable to assist Fairfax at this time," HPPL said in a written response to questions from ABC Television's Four Corners program.

"HPPL may hence sell its interest, and may consider repurchasing at some other time.

"Some people have taken these pieces of news as a reason to sell their shares," RBS Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop said on Tuesday of the share price drop.

Meanwhile, Fairfax has appointed the former editor of Christchurch newspaper The Press as editor-in-chief of Melbourne's The Age newspaper.

Andrew Holden's appointment follows the resignation of Paul Ramadge earlier this week.

The Saturday Age editor Steve Foley will assume the position of news director at The Age.