By: Mark Fitzgerald
Conrad Black resigned Tuesday morning as chairman, CEO and a director of Hollinger International, the holding company that owns a controlling voting stake in the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, Jerusalem Post and other papers, Hollinger announced in a terse statement.
The resignation was effect at 10 a.m., the company said.
By resigning, Black hopes to expedite his previously announced plan to take Hollinger Inc. private. Standing in the way are continued legal obstacles, most notably the recently re-filed lawsuit by Sun-Times publisher Hollinger International that accuses Black and other former executives of “looting” the company of as much as $400 million by awarding themselves improper fees and payments.
Despite the resignation, Black will continue to be a controlling stakeholder in Hollinger International because he controls a private firm called Ravelston, which holds an 18% equity stake that translates, through super-voting shares, into a 68% voting share.
In a separate development, Black faxed an angry letter to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley complaining about the mayor’s comments that Black and former Sun-Times Publisher F. David Radler “took money” from Hollinger International. A Sun-Times article Tuesday by business reporter Eric Herman reported that Black said he “read with dismay” the comments by Daley.
The Sun-Times last week quoted Daley, reacting to reports that a Water Department employee took bribes, as saying, “It surprises anybody. It surprised you when Radler and Black took money.”
“I am surprised and astonished that a man of your experience and judgment, who knows David Radler and me, would believe for an instant that we have committed financial improprieties,” Black wrote. “I would have expected you to give us the benefit of such doubt as our enemies have managed to create, and that you would distinguish the colossal defamation of those who would usurp our positions from serious allegations, of which there have been none.”
Reporter Herman noted the letter was faxed to a misspelled “His Honor Richard M. Daly.”