Lord Black steps down at Hollinger Inc to lead buyout

LONDON - Lord Conrad Black has stepped down as chairman and chief executive of Hollinger Inc to lead a buyout of the Canadian-based company after preparing an offer to minority shareholders.

Despite the resignation, Black still has a controlling stake in Hollinger Inc because Ravelston, his private investment vehicle, owns 78% of the company's stock. He plans to buy the remaining 22% from the minority shareholders.

The main asset of Hollinger Inc is its 18% equity interest and 68% voting control of US-headquartered publishing group Hollinger International, the company that owns the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post. Hollinger International sold the Telegraph Group earlier this year to the Barclay brothers.

If Black succeeds in taking Hollinger Inc private it would be subject to fewer regulatory controls.

The resignation came just as a Toronto court was scheduled to hear a shareholder demand for Black's resignation.

Earlier this year, Black was removed as chairman of Hollinger International and a $1.25bn (£690m) lawsuit was brought against him alleging he and his colleagues took millions of dollars of company money via huge management payouts.

While facing the $1.25bn Hollinger suit, Black has filed two of his own -- one alleging Hollinger International had libelled him, and a second seeking around $10m in unpaid fees for management services and $300m in damages because of Hollinger International's termination of his contract.

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