Before 1987, I was on a path to one day having the largest shareholding in the company and being chairman — possibly chief executive. After 1987, that all changed.
I launched the AUS $2.25B takeover in August 1987 of John Fairfax Ltd., a large diversified media company that, at its height, included newspapers, television stations, radio stations, magazines, and newsprint mills. With The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age in Melbourne, and The Australian Financial Review, it had the equivalent of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal of Australia.
By December 1987, the company was over AUS $1.5 billion in debt. The debt was so large that when Australia went through a recession in 1990, the company went bankrupt — and the company passed out of family control.
It was the end of a dynasty.