Wednesday 03-Nov-04: 09.00 GMT
Lord Conrad Black, the beleaguered British peer and one time international newspaper tycoon, has stepped down from his joint roles as chairman and chief executive of Toronto-based holding company Hollinger Incorporated [H-Inc] – through which, until recently, he controlled the publishing business Hollinger International [H-Intl].
Black is a minority but controlling shareholder in both companies, thanks to a Byzantine preferential voting share structure.
It is uncertain whether his departure is as voluntary as he would like the world to believe. Last week the peer spoke of standing down in order to facilitate his plan to take H-Inc private via his tightly-held holding company Ravelston Management.
However, in the continuing battle over allegedly improper payments made to Black and certain of his co-directors, major shareholder Catalyst Fund General Partners has demanded his removal from the H-Inc board and filed a lawsuit to that end with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Might it be that His Lordship jumped before he was pushed?
Data sourced from Wall Street journal Online; additonal content by WARC staff
HOLLINGER ACCUSES PERLE OF 'LOOTING'
Leading neoconservative thinker and one-time Pentagon hawk Richard N Perle, also a director of Hollinger International [H-Intl], has been named in a civil lawsuit by the company as an accomplice to its former chairman/ceo Lord Conrad Black and chief operating officer F David Radler.
All three men now stand accused of looting the company of hundreds of millions of dollars. A document that passed into the public domain on Monday alleges that Perle failed to protect the company's shareholders when, with Black and Radler, he was a member of the board's executive committee.
Perle, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, was a noted armchair warrior and chairman of a Pentagon advisory board from 2001 to 2003. He is a serial company director, serving on the boards of several corporations. He also acts as a consultant on matters unspecified.
Joining the Hollinger board in 1994, Perle had fingers in many pies - including the running of a subsidiary that invested in internet companies. For this chore he received an adequate (if not princely) annual salary of $250,000 (€196.2k; £136.4k) plus a $50k bonus. Fortunately for Perle this parsimony did not put him in line for Medicare, as the unit also handed him $3.1m in incentive payments.
According to the lawsuit: "Because he was receiving millions of dollars in compensation from Hollinger at Black's and Radler's discretion, Perle had a motive to rubber-stamp transactions Black and Radler proposed, and Perle did so, despite his duty to Hollinger's shareholders."
Hollinger accordingly seeks damages from the Pentagon philosopher. It not only wants him to return the handsome emoluments received, it also holds him jointly liable (with Black and Radler) for damages allegedly suffered as a result of their actions.
Among a number of specifics, H-Intl accuses Perle of improperly approving a loan to Black's holding company as well as a reduction in the interest rate on a loan to the holding company. It also says he signed consent forms for transactions through which Black and Radler allegedly enriched themselves.
"It's ludicrous," Perle responded Monday evening, adding that it was difficult for him to refute to the lawsuit because he had yet to see it. Unlike most great thinkers, however, Perle then contradicted himself: "I didn't benefit from any of the transactions that they're talking about," he said.
Data sourced from Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff