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Back to Black

Posted by: Diane Brady on December 10, 2007

This entry isn’t about the tabloid-worthy sad fate of Amy Winehouse (just as her album, Back to Black, is ringing up a series of awards nominations). It’s about the equally sad fate of Conrad Black. The former media baron was sentenced today to six and a half years in jail for his actions as the head of Hollinger.

Black will be approaching 70 when he completes his sentence, which was lighter than the 20-plus years that prosecutors had pushed for.

Of course, he said nothing when he left the court. That’s in keeping with the style of how he conducted himself during the trial. Black’s crimes essentially come down to having an utter disregard for what it means to run a public company. Shareholders were not entitled to hear the whole truth. They were expected to show gratitude for being allowed to buy a part of a challenged media empire.

Meanwhile, Black treated Hollinger as his personal ATM, to be tapped for whatever expense he deemed fit for the head of a high-profile media empire. Had he kept it private, it may well have ended up healthier. And he most certainly would still be in a position to enjoy the lavish lifestyle to which he became accustomed. He just wouldn’t have been able to force outside investors to unwittingly fund it.

Reader Comments

Wally Bock

December 10, 2007 7:29 PM

Would Black have been different if the company had been private? Not likely. But there are great lessons to be learned from how great private companies are grown and there are certainly benefits for staying private, even if you don't need a really big ATM.


December 11, 2007 1:25 PM

I don't think Black would have necessarily been different. But he would have been reaching primarily into his own pockets, vs. that of the public.


December 15, 2007 11:05 AM

Just think how much of this type of behaviour goes on unnoticed in both private and public companies. Mind boggling. I think humans will always do such things but what shocks me is when these guys apparently don't see what they did was wrong! Greed and temptations are always out there but once caught...have some acknowledgement of what you did wrong.

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