Fairfax Media: key events in the history of a newspaper dynasty

18 April, 1831 First edition of four-page weekly Sydney Herald.

Sept 26, 1838 John Fairfax arrives in Sydney.

8 Feb 1841 John Fairfax and Charles Kemp buy Sydney Herald, now published daily, from Frederick Stokes.

1 Aug 1842 Sydney Herald changes to Sydney Morning Herald.

The Sydney Morning Herald Building in Hunter Street Sydney during the 1870s.
The Sydney Morning Herald Building in Hunter Street Sydney during the 1870s.

30 Sept 1853 John Fairfax buys Kemp’s interest in SMH and takes Charles Fairfax into partnership.

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17 Oct 1854 Melbourne Age founded.

8 Oct 1855 Illawarra Mercury founded.

31 Dec 1856 John Fairfax & Sons established when John Fairfax takes his son, James Reading Fairfax, into partnership with himself and eldest son Charles.

3 July 1872 First direct cable of news from England, via Reuters, arrives SMH office.

Newspapers are loaded from the presses at the Sydney Morning Herald Broadway building in Jones Street, Ultimo in 1966.
Newspapers are loaded from the presses at the Sydney Morning Herald Broadway building in Jones Street, Ultimo in 1966.

16 Oct 1916 John Fairfax & Sons becomes John Fairfax & Sons Ltd.

13 July 1937 John Fairfax & Sons Ltd becomes John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd.

1940 New York office established.

1 July 1940 Wartime newsprint rationing comes into effect.

Warwick Fairfax, young proprietor of John Fairfax Group, in his Broadway office August 1990.
Warwick Fairfax, young proprietor of John Fairfax Group, in his Broadway office August 1990.

Robert Pearce

15 April 1944 SMH puts news on its front page.

21 Jan 1949 Sunday Herald established.

16 Aug 1951 The Australian Financial Review launched as a weekly newspaper.

11 Oct 1953 Sun-Herald established by merger of Sunday Herald and Sunday Sun.

The strain of months of negotiations shows on Tourang representative Dan Colson (right) as Mark Burrows (left) and ...
The strain of months of negotiations shows on Tourang representative Dan Colson (right) as Mark Burrows (left) and receiver Des Nicholl talk to the press on December 16, 1991.

Tim Clayton

21-22 Dec 1955 John Fairfax & Sons moves into new building at Broadway.

9 April 1956 John Fairfax Ltd incorporated as a public company.

24 Oct 1961 The Australian Financial Review becomes biweekly.

21 Oct 1963 The Australian Financial Review becomes daily.

11 Sept 1970 John Fairfax acquires 25 per cent of Land Newspaper Ltd.

7 Feb 1971 Launch of the National Times newspaper.

7 April 1978 John Fairfax acquires full ownership of Newcastle Newspapers.

Aug 1987 Warwick Fairfax launches $2.25b privatisation bid, 2 months before market crash.

Dec 1987 Warwick Fairfax assumes control of the company.

Late 1988 Company borrows $450 million in US junk bond market to finance mounting debt.

Dec 1990 Company goes into receivership.

July 1991 Conrad Black and Kerry Packer join with others in Tourang consortium to take control of Fairfax. Packer later drops out and Black acquires 15per cent stake in Dec 1991.

May 1992 Fairfax floats on stock exchange.

Mar 1993 Packer takes a 4.9 per cent stake, lifts it to 10.45 per cent in April.

Apr 1993 Black allowed to lift stake to 25 per cent. Does so by June.

Nov 1993 Nine Network Australia Ltd (since renamed Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd) purchased 29.5m participating convertible notes in the Company.

July 1994 Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd acquires 2.3 per cent of Fairfax, later lifts it to 4 per cent.

Feb 1995 Packer lifts stake to 16.4per cent.

May 1996 Bankers Trust boosts stake to 8 per cent.

Nov 1996 Black says he’ll quit Fairfax if he can’t lift his stake; News Ltd withdraws from Fairfax.

Dec 1996 Brierley Investments Limited buys at least 20 per cent of Black’s stake in Fairfax.

September 1997 A unit trust was established by Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL), which owned the shares in the company currently held by PBL.

September 1999 The company announced that it would separate its interactive businesses within a wholly owned subsidiary, f2, with a commitment to provide funds over the next three years in excess of $100 million.

June 2003 Completes acquisition of New Zealand publishing businesses

2007 Merger with Rural Press and acquisition of radio and video assets of Southern Cross Broadcasting.

1 Feb 2012 Gina Rinehart becomes the largest shareholder in Fairfax.

26 Jan 2015 Stan launches as a joint venture of Nine and Fairfax.

6 Feb 2015 Rinehart sells her $306 million stake.

16 Nov 2017 Fairfax floats online property classified business Domain.

Dec 12, 2017 Fairfax and Google strike deal on digital advertising.

July 26, 2018 Nine and Fairfax air plans to merge under the Nine Entertainment banner.

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