Billionaire’s Revenge: Gina Rinehart Votes Against Fairfax Board Pay Package

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By Vittorio Hernandez | October 25, 2012 9:44 AM EST

Gina Rinehart, Australia's richest woman, had her sweet revenge on Wednesday against the Fairfax Media board which slammed the door on her face a few weeks ago when she sought a director's seat.

Collection time came for the mining tycoon when she voted against the media company's remuneration report.

The vote, made at the end of the three-and-a-half hour annual meeting, was cast on behalf of Ms Rinehart by her representative, John Klepec, who used her 14 per cent stake. Combined with the rejection vote of other Fairfax shareholders opposed to the media firm's pay policies, the no vote exceeded 25 per cent of shares and gave Fairfax its first strike under the company's two-strike rule.

The Rinehart vote could easily be justified since Fairfax registered a $2.7-billion loss. Fairfax Chief Executive Greg Hywood disclosed at the meeting that the company's revenue for September and October 2012 are expected to be 7.5 per cent lower compared to the same months in 2011.

Due to the losses, Fairfax Chairman Roger Corbett agreed to a 7 per cent reduction on his compensation package which would bring it down to less than $400,000 from the current $430,000 in exchange for the shareholder support of Fairfax's remuneration report.

A second strike would grant shareholders the power to spill the board if they reject again the remuneration report in a second annual general meeting. Reports said 34.4 per cent voted against the report, up from the 17.5 per cent that were not in favour of the report prior to the meeting.

Based on shareholdings, the 34.4 per cent vote represents 590.5 million Fairfax shares, of which 352.5 million are held by the world's richest woman.

Mr Klepec said that Ms Rinehart remains critical of Fairfax because she lost so much money, while the board has been spared. Comparing the AGM battle to the blood doping charges against cyclist Lance Armstrong, Mr Klepec said, "The shareholders have more blood on the floor than you would find in a U.S. Postal Service camper van at the Tour de France but there's been no blood spilt at board level."

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