Investor Slams Trough Tactics of New Hollinger Boss

04 February 2005

Hollinger International [H-Intl] shareholders are a long suffering breed.

Releived only recently of the ruinous services of former chairman/ceo Lord Conrad Black, investors last month found themselves saddled with another exorbitant overhead in the shape of banker Gordon A Paris.

Paris, formally appointed to the Hollinger helm last month, was not content with the dual roles held by His Lordship and added a third chore - that of president - to his job specification. Which is as good a justification as any for a remuneration package clearly meant for three people.

One Wednesday H-Intl filed a document with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. This revealed Paris will earn an annual base salary of $2 million plus other benefits and bonus payments - the latter "targeted at 50% of his annual base salary."

"We're back in Conrad-land here," said a spokeswoman for Tweedy Browne, a New York-based institutional investment firm that holds some 13% of H-Inlt's stock.

The firm was the prime mover in the 2003 ousting of Black from the company and those who know Tweedy's managing director Christopher Browne doubt he will be content to let Paris off the hook.

As Tweedy sees it, H-Intl these days is just "a small regional publisher," having last year parted with the jewel in its corporate crown - the UK's Telegraph Group, sold for over $1.3 billion).

The group's depleted size makes Paris's remuneration package "excessive" in Tweedy's view, given that it equates to around 12% of H-Intl's pretax profit in 2003.

But from the H-Intl bunker the horn blew loud and clear in defense of Paris's dollar carnival. It noted [without enumeration] his "significant accomplishments ... and the unique nature of the Hollinger situation."

The lips of Paris himself remained zipped, thereby proving the new chairman/ceo/president to be not only wealthy but wise.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff