Hollinger Audit Committee Quits En Bloc

24 November 2003

Hollinger International's four-strong audit committee signalled its unease with former group chief executive Lord Conrad Black's style of corporate governance by unanimously resigning at the weekend.

The committee -- a quartet of independent directors comprising Canadian TV businessman Douglas Bassett, retail entrepreneur Fredrik Eaton, the former Canadian ambassador to the US Allan Gotlieb, and Canadian Tire board member Maureen Sabia -- all quit after Hollinger's parent board rejected its recommendations for a restructured management.

The proposals were vetoed by Hollinger Incorporated, still chaired by Black, which controls 72.6% of Hollinger International's votes but holds only 30.3% of its stock.

Meantime, word emerged from Black's bunker that Hollinger International's board is disinclined to dispose of its prime asset -- the UK's Telegraph Group -- except as part of a bid for the entire company.

Failing which, the first property for sale is likely to be Hollinger's Chicago Group, the jewel in whose crown is the Chicago Sun Times. New fiscal data filed last week credits Chicago Group with operating income of $9.19 million (€7.74m; £5.40m) in the quarter to September 30, compared with the Telegraph's $7.61m in the same period.

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