- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) — Conrad Black will step down as chief executive of Hollinger International Inc., publisher of the Daily Telegraph in London, the Jerusalem Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, and the company will be put up for sale in the wake of an internal investigation that found fees had been paid improperly to Mr. Black and other senior executives.

Several other executives also are leaving Hollinger as part of a management shake-up that the company announced yesterday. David Radler resigned as the company’s president and as publisher of the Sun-Times, and Mark Kipnis resigned as general counsel.

Mr. Black officially will retire Friday and remain nonexecutive chairman of Hollinger to oversee the sale process. He also will continue as chairman of the Telegraph Group Ltd., a wholly owned Hollinger subsidiary, and as head of Hollinger Inc., the Toronto parent company of Hollinger International.

Hollinger said it has retained the investment bank Lazard LLC to explore a sale of the company or one or more of its newspapers.

The Washington Post Co. told Agence France-Presse yesterday that it was considering its options.

“We consider every property that comes on the market. We never comment on any potential acquisition or what we’re thinking about or what we’re doing until we do it,” a Washington Post Co. spokeswoman said.

The news group owns The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine, as well as a host of other publications. It sold its 50 percent stake in the International Herald Tribune to The New York Times in January for $65 million.

Hollinger acknowledged that an ongoing internal review revealed that Mr. Black, Mr. Radler and two other executives received a total of $32.15 million in unauthorized payments in connection with the sale of several community newspapers.

All of the executives except one have agreed to repay Hollinger what they owe, with interest, the company said. The fourth, Executive Vice President J.A. Boultbee, was fired, Hollinger said.

According to the company, Mr. Black and Mr. Radler each received about $7.2 million in unauthorized payments; Executive Vice Presidents Peter Y. Atkinson and Mr. Boultbee each received about $600,000. The executives could not be reached for comment.

The company said Mr. Black also has agreed to seek the repayment of $16.55 million paid to Hollinger Inc., where he is the majority shareholder.

Mr. Black has defended the fees, which are intended to ensure that a seller will not re-enter the markets of the properties he is selling. But shareholders have questioned why the payments went directly to the executives rather than the company.

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