Judge Mulls Bid to Block Hollinger Sale

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(AP) A Delaware judge Friday heard arguments in a bid to block the proposed $1.2 billion sale of London’s Daily Telegraph and other British assets of Hollinger International Inc.

Toronto-based Hollinger Inc. sued in Delaware’s Chancery Court in an effort to force Hollinger International to submit its proposed sale of London’s Daily Telegraph to shareholders for a vote.

Hollinger Inc. has a 32% ownership stake and 72% voting interest in Chicago-based Hollinger International, which publishes more than 150 newspapers and trade publications.

The deal is set to close July 30, but could close as late as Oct. 29 under terms of the agreement with the purchasers, Britain’s billionaire Barclay brothers.

Vice Chancellor Leo Strine heard arguments first from the Canadian company, which wants to stop the transaction until shareholders are polled.

Hollinger Inc., which has long been identified as being controlled by ousted Hollinger International chairman Conrad Black, says Black has stepped away from decisions on the sale.

Shareholders deserve to be consulted on the Telegraph deal since it involves substantially all of the assets of Hollinger International, Gilchrist Sparks, attorney for Hollinger Inc., told Strine.

Hollinger International says Black has been maneuvering behind the scenes for months, allegedly in violation of an injunction issued earlier by the Delaware tribunal.

Court papers filed by Hollinger International say Black has been trying to find investors to take Hollinger International private and to finance a buyout of the public shareholders by selling all or part of the Telegraph.

Black was forced out last year as CEO of Hollinger International, which also owns the Chicago Sun Times, amid accusations that he and his associates had received millions of dollars in unauthorized payments.

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