Hollinger files for protection from bankruptcy

HOLLINGER, the holding company that was at the centre of Conrad Black’s collapsed newspaper empire, has filed for bankruptcy protection while asserting control over its main remaining asset, a stake in Sun-Times Media Group.

The Toronto-based company said yesterday it has acted to remove three directors from the board of Sun-Times Media, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and an assortment of community papers in the Chicago area.

At the same time, Hollinger is putting six of its nominees on the board, including Hollinger Chief Executive Wesley Voorheis, Chief Financial Officer William Aziz, and Peter Dey, a former Hollinger director and past chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission.

They will press to put the US newspaper company up for sale. Aziz said the moves are being done “to provide a level playing field for us to maximise value for the stakeholders of Hollinger Inc”.

He said the company has been in third-party negotiation with Sun-Times Media group and secured noteholders, and those discussions had reached an impasse.

Also yesterday, a US judge ruled Black may not travel to Canada while awaiting sentencing for his fraud conviction.

US District Judge Amy St Eve cited a possibility that the Canadian-born former media mogul could try to stay in his native country and then fight extradition to the United States.

Black, who is free on bond, was convicted on July 13 in Chicago of three counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice in what federal prosecutors describe as a multi-million-dollar fleecing of Hollinger International, the media empire he once owned.

The jury acquitted the former owner of the Daily Telegraph of nine other charges ranging from racketeering to tax fraud.

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