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Australia's Seven Takes Stake in Publisher Fairfax

Seven Network Ltd. has taken a stake in publisher John Fairfax Holdings Ltd. as Australian television broadcaster readies for a shake-up of the country's A$12 billion (US$9.5 billion) media industry.

A Seven spokesman confirmed that Australia's second biggest broadcaster, controlled by media mogul Kerry Stokes, had bought shares in Fairfax. But he declined to give details. "Seven's Fairfax stake is less than 5%, the spokesman said, while a Fairfax spokesman said it could be smaller than 2%.

Fairfax is considered one of Australia's four most likely media takeover targets. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. bought 7.5% of the group in October.

Media groups have been jostling for position before new laws come into effect next year allowing owners of one media platform -- newspapers, radio or television -- to own a second platform in the same market.

Seven, which also grabbed a 14.9% stake in West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd. in October, has over US$3.8 billion to invest after last month's US$5 billion joint venture with private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

In other moves, Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd., controlled by James Packer, sold its TV, magazine and Internet businesses to a new company to be jointly owned by PBL and private equity investor CVC Asia Pacific, raising US$5.7 billion.

Macquarie Media Group bought a 13.8% stake in radio and TV station owner Southern Cross Broadcasting Ltd.

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