The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, January 18, 2004  

Right-Wing Friend of Tina Selling Assets

It looks like Conrad Black -- oh, excuse me, “Lord Black,” whatever that’s supposed to mean to anyone other than, well, “Lord Black,” or those still aroused by the fictions of the British empire -- suck up, publisher of pabulum, and friend of Tina Brown, is selling assets in an effort to stay afloat.

The New York Times today reports (“British Media Baron Near Deal to Sell Major Stake in Hollinger,” by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Geraldine Fabrikant):

Conrad M. Black, the British media baron, is near a deal to sell his controlling interest in Hollinger International to David and Frederick Barclay, brothers who own London’s Sunday Business and The Scotsman, for more than $200 million and outstanding debts, according to executives briefed on the discussions.

The deal for control of Hollinger, publisher of [t]he Daily Telegraph of London, [t]he Chicago Sun-Times[,] and [t]he Jerusalem Post, could be announced as early as Sunday, the executives said. Still, they cautioned that the talks were continuing and the deal could collapse.

A reprieve for “Lord Black”? Maybe. Sorkin and Fabrikant report:

According to the executives, the deal with the Barclay brothers, who also own the Ritz Hotel, is a complex transaction in which they would take control of another [“]Lord Black[”] company called Ravelston, which in turn owns a 78 percent stake in Hollinger Inc. But any deal by Mr. Black to sell his stake may run afoul of agreements made Friday between Hollinger and the S.E.C. intended to prevent Lord Black from doing so.

Of course, there’s always the lingering fact that “Lord Black” has been, well, fired, among much else:

Hollinger International’s executive committee announced Saturday that Lord Black “has been removed as non-executive chairman of the company, effective immediately.”

In addition, the special committee created to investigate accusations of unauthorized payments to Lord Black filed a lawsuit on Saturday against him and the company's former president, F. David Radler.

The suit charges that Lord Black and his top aides systematically diverted company funds. The complaint, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, asserts that Lord Black and the others directed more than $224 million in payments for themselves that were far in excess of any services they performed, among other accusations. The lawsuit goes into extensive detail describing how, it says, Lord Black misled the company.

What does it take, really, for guys like this to admit they’re failures, that they’ve been disgraced, that their mogul-building strategies were nothing less than contemptible and all too often criminal, before we will hear no more from or about them, particularly from such bottom-feeders as Washington Post Style-section columnist Tina Brown?

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