TORONTO – A day after being ousted as CEO of his newspaper publishing company, Conrad Black (search) brushed aside allegations of impropriety Tuesday and said he was far from finished as a media mogul.
Appearing at a bookstore to promote his new biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Black displayed his trademark combativeness as he answered questions from a throng of reporters. "I'm not trying to steal anybody's money," Black said.
Black announced his departure Monday as head of Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc. (HLR), publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Telegraph in England, following revelations that he and other top executives collected about $15 million in unauthorized fees.
"You take your lumps and move on," he said, acknowledging he would have to sell "a lot of books" to repay the money. "I've given a new meaning to the term `struggling author,"' he quipped.
Black will officially retire Friday but remain non-executive chairman of Hollinger to oversee a possible sale of all or part of the company. He also will continue as chairman of The Telegraph Group Ltd. (search), a wholly owned Hollinger subsidiary, and as head of Hollinger Inc., the Toronto-based parent company of Hollinger International.
He called the reshuffle announced Monday an agreement rather than a sanction, and noted he retained his Hollinger post because he still owned the biggest chunk of the company.
Hollinger said it has retained the investment bank Lazard LLC to explore a sale of the company or one or more of its newspapers.
He acknowledged that an ongoing internal review revealed that Hollinger's parent company, Black, Radler and two other executives received a total of $32.15 million in unauthorized payments in connection with the sale of several community newspapers.
All of the executives except one have agreed to repay Hollinger what they owe, with interest, the company said. The fourth, executive vice president J.A. Boultbee, was fired, Hollinger said.