New standards of vulgarity

Partners for the Post

PATRICIA BEST October 19 1987
New standards of vulgarity

Partners for the Post

PATRICIA BEST October 19 1987

Partners for the Post

It is a powerful alliance of international newspaper interests and Canadian business. Two weeks ago the Toronto Sun Publishing Corp. said that it would acquire the Toronto-based Financial Post weekly newspaper from Maclean Hunter Ltd. At the time of the announcement, executives from the Sun also said that the Post—and a new business daily that it planned to launch—would be operated as a separate company. Then, late last week, Douglas Creighton, president of Sun Publishing, flew to London to discuss bringing a potential partner into the Post subsidiary. Creighton, who was interviewed in London, refused to identify the party other than to say that it was a Londonbased concern. But a source close to the negotiations said that Creighton offered the Financial Times a minority stake in the Post and that “the offer likely will be accepted.”

Already, Creighton had lined up Canadian financier Conrad Black as a partner in the venture, which will provide Torontoarea readers with a tabloid business daily by early next year.

Said Creighton: “Conrad can have a piece of this action if he wants, and I he will

Indeed, Black, who has controlled London’s Daily Telegraph since February, 1986, and who purchased Toronto-based Saturday Night magazine in July, 1987, was a key figure in bringing Sun Publishing together with the Post and the Financial Times. As much as four months ago those parties, along with Maclean Hunter, whose stake in Sun Publishing increases to 57.3 per cent from 53 per cent as a result of the agreement, began discussing “whether a financial daily could make it in Toronto,” Creighton said.

Since then, negotiations between the Financial Times, the Post and Sun Publishing have continued in Toronto and London. Frank Barlow, chief executive officer of the Financial Times and a director on the board of Pearson PLC, which owns the paper, visited Canada recently. And Black had discussions with Barlow in London in August. Bar-

low is strongly opposed to a possible acquisition of Pearson by Australianborn media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

For Sun Publishing and its future daily Post, an ownership stake by Financial Times would provide prestige and an inexpensive source of international business and economic news. For its part, the Financial Times—self-described as Europe’s business newspaper—would move one step closer to its long-held ambition of having a truly international presence. Publishing industry experts say that it sells only about 2,000 copies a day in Canada of an edition that it prints at a plant in New Jersey. One Fleet Street source said that the deal with Creighton would also counter recent criticism by Murdoch’s associates that the Financial Times has failed to exploit the world market.

Meanwhile, Creighton confirmed that he was in London earlier this year to investigate the market for a new London daily, al8 though Sun Publishing appears to have z abandoned the proj1 ect. At the same time, g Black, who is known § for his conservative, 8 pro-business views, was apparently seeking further acquisitions in British newspaper publishing.

In a report carried in the Financial Times in August, Black was also linked to plans to launch English-language daily papers in Montreal and Ottawa. At the time, Black said that he liked owning newspapers because they were both interesting and profitable—and because they gave him access to everyone he wanted to meet. And he added that he would like to own more of them. Black told the Financial Times'. “I want to build a first-class international newspaper company and I think the omens are favorable.” After the promising meetings in London between Creighton and Barlow, Black’s ambition to reach the top of the international publishing world seemed to be a little closer to realization.

-PATRICIA BEST

ROSS LAVER