Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Telegraph Sell-Off Looms as Black Quits

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Telegraph Sell-Off Looms as Black Quits

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK GOODWAY

DAILY and Sunday Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black has dramatically quit the media company that publishes the newspapers.

Lord Black, 59, said he would step down as chief executive of the New York-listed Hollinger International, which also publishes the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post, at the end of the week.

He also announced the appointment of Wall Street bank Lazard to examine a sell-off of parts or all of the newspaper group. This led to a flurry of speculation over which media giants would line up for the titles.

The moves follow multimillion pound payments made to Lord Black and other senior Hollinger executives which were not approved by the board. An internal investigation found they had not been properly authorised by the company.

According to Hollinger, Black, who is married to commentator Barbara Amiel, received around $7.2 million ([pounds sterling]4.3 million) and chief operating officer David Radler another $7.2 million of the unauthorised payments in 2000 and 2001.

They and other executives have agreed to repay the money with interest. In total, more than $32 million was paid to senior executives and to Hollinger's parent company, which Black controls.

The newspaper publisher has been heavily criticised by shareholder Tweedy, Browne of New York, which has questioned the $73.7 million paid to Black and his associates in noncompete fees linked to the sale of dozens of newspapers.

Black has denied allegations of wrongdoing by executives, including himself.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and the Washington Post Group are among likely bidders for Hollinger's international newspaper titles. Analysts said Express owner Richard Desmond, the Barclay brothers who own The Business and Daily Mail and General Trust, which owns the Evening Standard, would look at the Telegraph titles. …

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