Commonwealth Bank steps forward as notable ally in Rinehart Fairfax venture

FUNDS managers under the Commonwealth Bank's umbrella are the first to identify themselves as significant sellers of Fairfax Media shares to the mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

FUNDS managers under the Commonwealth Bank's umbrella are the first to identify themselves as significant sellers of Fairfax Media shares to the mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

A substantial shareholding notice filed yesterday by CBA disclosed that they had sold more than 55 million shares on Thursday and Friday last week when brokers acting for Mrs Rinehart were increasing her holding to 18.67 per cent of Fairfax.

The net reduction in its shareholding since the last time it made a statement in early February, was a smaller number of shares, because some funds had also bought shares in the interim.

That February notice from CBA was also about a reduction in its holdings, and in part stemmed from selling shares to Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting group.

Overall, holdings in Fairfax attributable to funds under CBA's control, most of them within the Colonial First State group, fell from 11.04 per cent to 8.88 per cent of the media group.

CBA's notice includes a paragraph of fine print pointing out that 1.4 percentage points of that Fairfax stake are managed by external groups that take their own decisions on buying and selling stocks.

In 2009 Mrs Rinehart won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award, a subset of the Telstra Business Women's Awards which she also won that year.

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