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Rinehart misses out on Fairfax board seat
Rinehart misses out on Fairfax board seat

The world's richest woman Gina Rinehart has been overlooked for a Fairfax Media board seat, in favour of an accountant.

Fairfax has chosen former Ernst & Young boss James Millar to join its board, replacing Robert Savage who will retire on June 30.

Mrs Rinehart is understood to have requested two board seats at Fairfax after becoming the newspaper publisher's largest shareholder earlier this year.

However she has been overlooked in favour of Mr Millar, who chairs retailer Fantastic Holdings and has board seats with property group Mirvac and Jetset Travelworld.

The mining magnate holds a 12.8 per cent stake in Fairfax.

According to the latest edition of BRW Magazine, published today, Mrs Rinehart's $29 billion fortune not only makes her the richest person in Australia, but the world's most wealthy woman.

But that hasn't appeared to be enough to sway the Fairfax board.

Analysts questioned whether Fairfax was sending a message to Mrs Rinehart or whether she merely did not have the skills they were looking for given the massive changes the company is making to focus more on its digital business.

"I think it's interesting with Bob Savage leaving the board they've taken the opportunity to fill his vacancy with someone else rather than Gina Rinehart," Fat Prophets senior analyst Greg Fraser said.

"Is that an oblique message to Mrs Rinehart that perhaps she's not wanted? On the other hand her expertise is in building iron ore businesses, not corporate reconstruction."

Mr Fraser said Mr Millar's experience in corporate restructuring signalled there were more changes to come at Fairfax.

"It's interesting that they appoint someone with that sort of expertise, suggesting that's what the company's in need of," he said.

"I think there's certain to be more changes, it's a question of how big those changes have to be."

Mr Millar's corporate, rather than media, background also showed that Fairfax was moving to publish more of its newspapers online rather than in print, Mr Fraser said.

"I don't think at this point they're really in need of people with newspaper backgrounds because it's a digital future for the business that will help it survive," he said.

"Maybe that's where he can add some value."

Fairfax closed flat at 65 cents.