Canwest Could be Forced to Fold 'National Post' Friday

By: Mark Fitzgerald The National Post could be shut down Friday unless a court lets parent Canwest Global Communications shift the Toronto-based paper to the company that holds its sibling newspapers, the foundering Canadian media giant said Thursday.

In documents filed with the court overseeing its restructuring, Canwest Global said creditors will no longer fund the Post, which is losing money at a rate of some $900,000 a month. The Post will have to be closed "immediately," Canwest said, if the court does not approve a plan to move it to a holding company, and then to Canwest Limited Partnership, the corporate home to the largest chain of English-language papers in Canada including The Gazette in Montreal, Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen.

Canwest Limited is not now under creditor protection, but it, too, is expected to file for bankruptcy.

At issue in the hearing is whether the shutting down the Post, which Canwest said had lost C$62 million in the last four years, would hurt the company of sibling newspapers. (C$1=US92 cents) Canwest said the papers benefit from shared content, management and customer service agreements.

The Post was founded by Conrad Black in 1998 as a politically conservative national daily. Ironically, Canwest was forced to seek bankruptcy protection earlier this month largely because of the huge debt it took on to buy Southam Newspapers when the big Canadian chain was owned by Hollinger International, the company Black chaired until his ouster for alleged fraud. Black is serving a U.S. federal prison sentence for wire fraud and obstruction of justice stemming from payments he received from the sale of certain newspapers.


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