By: Mark Fitzgerald
Oops, they did it again: After the close of trading Wednesday evening, Hollinger International said it would not be able to file long-overdue financial reports by March 31 — possibly again risking the delisting of its stock by the New York Stock Exchange.
Last December, Hollinger International said the NYSE warned the company it might be thrown off the Big Board unless it filed its annual report for 2003. Hollinger, the publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers in the Chicago and Canadian markets, fell behind on its financial reports when allegations began surfacing of improper payments and fees amounting to $400 million over seven years that were allegedly paid to former Chairman Conrad Black and other key executives. The NYSE later gave Hollinger an extension to March 31 to file the report, adding that it would “initiate suspension procedures” if Hollinger failed to meet the extended deadline.
Hollinger did file that report in January, but now says it will be unable to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by March 31 its also-overdue Form 10-Q quarterly reports for the first three quarters of 2004, and its Form 10-K annual report for 2004.
It isn’t clear if March 31 is another NYSE deadline, and a Hollinger International spokesperson refused to comment beyond the terse release.
Hollinger said its delay was “due to the work involved in the auditing process” and that it was trying to conclude the work involved in the filings “as expeditiously as possible.”
UPDATE, March 18: In an e-mail sent late Thursday, a Hollinger spokeswoman said the company does not believe the delay risks a delisting action by the NYSE.