A friend of Australian mining mogul Gina Rinehart was handed a seat on the board of ailing media firm Fairfax following a drawn out row between the company and its biggest shareholder. Jack Cowin, the founder and chairman of Competitive Foods Australia, which runs fast food outlets including the country\'s Burger King franchise, on Thursday joined Fairfax as an independent director. \"Our discussions with Mr Cowin over recent months have made it clear that he has considerable value to add to the company,\" Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett said in a statement. Cowin is a close friend of Rinehart, the world\'s richest woman and Fairfax\'s biggest shareholder with a 14.99 percent holding through her company Hancock Prospecting. Rinehart has been locked in a bitter tussle with Corbett and Fairfax over board influence in recent months, with her demand for three seats turned down over her refusal to sign the firm\'s charter of editorial independence. The iron ore tycoon reportedly threatened to sell off her entire Fairfax stake if she did not get two board seats, plus an independent director. Corbett said Cowin\'s appointment did not mean Fairfax was backing down. \"Neither Mr Cowin or Fairfax Media consider his appointment as being indicative or connected to the potential outcomes of the company\'s inconclusive discussions with Hancock Prospecting Pty. Ltd.,\" Corbett said. Fairfax is enduring a turbulent period, recently announcing 1,900 job cuts as part of a digital-focused restructure in the face of plunging advertising and readership revenues. Its share price was flat Thursday at 56.5 Australian cents.