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Fairfax media returns to profit

Fairfax Media, the Sydney-based publishing and broadcasting company, announced a return to profit in the last year when it released its financial results on 27 August.

Fairfax made a profit after tax of AUD$282 million (€197 million) for the year ending June 2010, compared with a loss of AUD$380 million for the same period in 2009. The company also said it has reduced its net debt by AUD$347 million.

Cost cutting measures made up for a weak advertising climate in the first half, which the company said picked up in the second half to help revenue growth.

Non-family chairman Roger Corbett said in a statement: "The management team has made positive progress from our range of media assets on three fronts - building revenue, making the business more cost effective and reducing debt.

"As a consequence, Fairfax Media is in better shape to consolidate its position as Australia's leading media business," he said.

The statement went on to say that the company had already seen revenues increase 5% for the first seven weeks of its new financial year and that it plans to take advantage of improved trading conditions in Australia to invest in product development.

Founded in 1841, Fairfax Media is Australia's oldest and second-largest media company. It publishes newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age.

The founding Fairfax family owns 9.7% of Fairfax through its private company Marinya Media. John Fairfax (pictured) and his son Nicholas Fairfax are both board members at the company, but John Fairfax announced in July that he does not plan to stand for re-election to the board at the company's AGM. (Continue reading here)

The Fairfax family controlled the company until 1990, but after a failed privatisation by John Fairfax's cousin Warwick Fairfax, the company was put into administration with the Fairfax family losing control after Conrad Black's Tourang Limited bought the business. 

John Fairfax and his son Nicholas remained in control of a subsidiary company Rural Press, which announced it planned to merge with Fairfax Media at the end of 2006. It was through this merger that the Fairfax family re-gained a holding in the company and two seats on the Fairfax board. 

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