Most people are assuming that Conrad Black will lose control of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator. He has been forced to resign as chief executive officer of the New York listed company Hollinger International, which owns these titles in addition to the Jerusalem Post and Chicago Sun-Times. Lord Black and fellow executives face probable investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the American financial regulator. Hollinger has admitted that a total of $32.15 million in so-called ‘non-competition payments’ was made to Lord Black and senior colleagues without the authorisation of the audit committee or the full board. Lord Black has personally agreed to pay back more than $7 million to shareholders. Other payments made to Lord Black and his associates will now come under scrutiny.
It is possible that Lord Black will somehow hang on to the Telegraph Group, of which he remains chairman for the time being, but even his friends do not think this is very likely. Though he remains the controlling shareholder in Hollinger International, his shares are effectively frozen. Hollinger has instructed Lazards to look at a possible break-up and sale. Lord Black was the moving spirit of Hollinger and its raison d’