Black signs auditor to keep Hollinger afloat

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The Independent Online

Lord Black of Crossharbour has appointed a new auditor for his holding company, Hollinger Inc, to ward off potential default proceedings due later this month.

Hollinger Inc is the holding company for Hollinger International, owner of The Daily Telegraph, which has been at the centre of a bidding war involving the Barclay brothers, owners of The Scots- man newspaper and Ritz hotel.

Toronto-listed Hollinger Inc has not had an auditor since KPMG quit in December. Under the terms of a US$120m (£65m) bond it would breach covenants if it failed to appoint a new auditor by 15 March.

Zeifman & Company was appointed on Friday. The Canadian firm will audit the accounts for the year ending December 2003.

Canadian media group CanWest is thought to be looking at buying Hollinger International's Jerusalem Post. Hollinger International still owes CanWest $350m in unpaid tax after it bought most of Lord Black's Canadian newspapers in 2000 in a $2.4bn deal. CanWest could take ownership of the newspaper in return for writing off some of the debt.

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