Black Digs Deep for $30m Hollinger Payback

20 July 2004

Good to know you can scrape together $30 million (€24.13m; £16.01m) when you need it. As beleaguered Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour will attest.

Despite a mounting tide of woes, His Lordship wrote a cheque for exactly that amount, licked a stamp, and mailed the precious envelope to Hollinger International [H-Intl], the company he still notionally controls and of which he is the former chairman/ceo.

The $30m represents a disputed 'non-compete' payment pocketed by Black, whereas shareholders in H-Intl insist it should have gone into company coffers.

But the repayment does not signify a change of heart on Black's part. He was ordered to pay back the money in a ruling earlier this year by Delaware Chancery Court Judge Leo Strine. The peer has appealed against the ruling and says he will reclaim the cash if successful.

From whence the $30m was conjured is something of a mystery given the disclosure last week that Black's holding company, Hollinger Inc, had only around $18m in cash "or cash equivalents on hand".

Meantime, Judge Strine will preside this Friday over Black's lawsuit against H-Intl, demanding a shareholder vote on the proposed sale to Britain's Barclay brothers of the jewel in H-Intl's crown, the Telegraph Group.

A ruling is expected ahead of the scheduled July 30 closing of the deal.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff