By: Mark Fitzgerald
In its second big sale of a foreign newspaper, Hollinger International Tuesday agreed to sell The Jerusalem Post for $13.2 million in cash to Mirkaei Tikshoret Ltd., the Israeli newspaper publisher.
Winnipeg-based CanWest Global Communications, an international media company and Canada’s biggest newspaper publisher (through its Southam Publications group), said it reached a joint-venture agreement with Mirkaei Tikshoret whereby it would acquire 50% ownership of the Post.
The sale is expected to close in mid-December, Hollinger said. “Following the closing, there will be no adjustments to purchase price,” the Chicago-based company said.
Hollinger International previously sold The Daily Telegraph and related publications. Its principal newspaper properties remaining are the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Southtown, and other dailies and non-dailies in the Chicago region.
The sale continues Hollinger International’s so-called “strategic process” of selling off assets begun after a shareholder revolt in the spring of 2003. Complaints about former CEO Conrad Black’s style of corporate governance grew into a full-blown scandal with allegations from a special committee of Hollinger’s International’s board that Black, former Sun-Times Publisher F. David Radler and other executives “looted” the company of some $400 million through improper fees and payments. On Monday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Black and Radler in federal court in Chicago, alleging much the same wrongdoing.
Gordon Paris, Hollinger International’s interim chairman and CEO, said the sale of the Jerusalem Post “represents another step towards this end, and will allow our management team to devote its full attention to further improving the quality and potential of our assets in North America.”
Tel Aviv-based Mirkaei Tikshoret Ltd. is one of Israel’s largest newspaper publishers and broadcasters, with holdings that include Russian-language daily newspapers, Russian- and Hebrew-language weeklies and monthly magazines, and TV and radio stations.
Announcing the agrement with Mirkaei Tikshoret, CanWest President and CEO Leonard Asper said his company “harbored a long standing interest in the Jerusalem Post.” In a statement, Asper said CanWest wished “to extend the reach and influence of [The Jerusalem Post] group’s flagship newspaper and other media properties around the world, but particularly in North America where CanWest’s strong printing, sales and marketing expertise can be utilized.”
In addition to a weekly International Jerusalem Post, the group published the Weekend Jerusalem Post, printed and distibuted in the three-state New York metropolitan area.