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Door to Fairfax Board Room Still Close to Gina Rinehart

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By Vittorio Hernandez | June 2, 2014 9:09 AM EST

For the second time, Fairfax Media closed its board room door to majority shareholder and mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. The media company opted to replace retiring director Sam Morgan with advertising executive and TV personality Todd Sampson.

Sampson heads global advertising agency Leo Burnett's Australia operations and is panel member of ABC show Gruen Transfer.

Rinehart, through her mining company Hancock Prospecting, owns a 14.99 per cent of Fairfax Media. She campaigned in 2012 to win a seat in the board, but Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood said the mining billionaire's appointment was blocked due to her refusal to agree to the board's condition that she would not interfere in editorial decisions.

Many saw Rinehart's buy-in of Fairfax stocks was to have a bigger say on editorial content, particularly if it concerns her mining company and issues related to the mining industry. Australia's richest person and at one time the richest woman in the world is known for speaking her mind about Aussie issues,  at times incurring public anger for her suggestions.

In lieu of Rinehart, the Fairfax board appointed Jack Cowim, founder of restaurant chain Hungry Jack's and close friend of the mining magnate, as independent director in 2012.

In a statement, Fairfax Chairman Roger Corbett said, "We are delighted that Todd Sampson has agreed to join the Fairfax board. We believe that he will bring a deep knowledge of media, marketing, advertising and digital transformation to our board."

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