Hollinger Int’l. Legal Costs: $44 Million, and Growing

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

In the first nine months of 2004, Hollinger International spent $44.6 million in its legal battles against former Chairman Conrad Black and other former key employees, the company revealed Friday.

Hollinger International filed its long-delayed financial results for the third quarter and first nine months of 2004 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Included in the legal bills is an expenditure of $20.4 million to pay for the work of the special directors committee that produced a 513-page report alleging Black and other former executives comprised a “corporate kleptocracy” that “looted” Hollinger of some $400 million through improper payments, fees, and insider deals over a seven-year period.

The filing also indicates the extent to which Hollinger International — which Black had built into a huge newspaper chain sprawling across the U.S. and Canada — has become concentrated in the Chicago area. Hollinger said the Chicago Sun-Times; the Daily Southtown in suburban Tinley Park, Ill; the Post Tribune in Gary, Ind.; and its other dailies and weeklies in the Chicago market represented approximately 82.9% of its revenues for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2004.

Hollinger said it had an operating loss of $17.1 million on operating revenues of $417.3 million in the first nine months of 2004, compared to an operating profit of $3.9 million on revenues of $399.9 million in the same period in 2003.

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