January 29, 2009 / 3:56 PM / 9 years ago

Canwest awarded C$51 mln in Hollinger Intl fight

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canwest Global Communications Corp, Canada’s biggest media company, has been awarded about C$51 million ($42 million) in a long-running dispute with Hollinger International Inc, the company once run by jailed media tycoon Conrad Black.

The fight between the two companies dates back to Canwest’s November 2000 acquisition of newspapers from Hollinger International, which is now known as Sun-Times Media Group. The disagreement relates to unresolved adjustments and claims associated with the deal.

Winnipeg-based Canwest initially claimed it was owed C$84 million by Hollinger International, while Hollinger claimed Canwest owed it C$116 million.

An arbitration process kicked off in February 2007 and ended last June. Canwest said the award doesn’t factor in interest and costs, which have yet to be settled.

The arbitrator’s decision is open to a “limited” right of appeal to the Ontario Superior Court, Canwest said.

“While the proceedings have been protracted over several years, we obviously feel justified that the time and effort it took to pursue the claim has been worth it,” Canwest Chief Executive Leonard Asper said in a statement.

Hollinger International was once headed by Black, who was sent to prison in the United States in 2007 for fraud and obstructing justice. He and others were accused of swindling the company by giving themselves illegal bonuses.

The award comes as Canwest struggles under a C$3.7 billion debtload and sees it television and print advertising revenue drop as the economy softens.

The company warned earlier this month that it may violate some financial covenants with its lenders if the weak economy continues to weigh on its business. To avoid this, it said it will consider selling non-core assets and working on controlling its costs.

Canwest shares were up 2 Canadian cents at 52 Canadian cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Late last February, they were worth C$6.11 each.

($1=$1.22 Canadian)

Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson

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