Thursday, February 5, 2009

Freidheim Leaving as Sun-Times Media CEO

Cyrus Freidheim announced today he is out as Sun-Times Media Group president and chief executive officer. He will step down at the end of the month.

Mark Fitzgerald of Editor & Publisher reports:

Freidheim's resignation comes as a new board of directors is seated, following a shareholders revolt engineered by a hedge fund that earlier this month ousted all directors but one.

No replacement has been named. One of the new directors seated in the vote, former Dallas Morning News Jeremy Halbreich, was reported by the Frontburner blog in Dallas as saying he was not interested in heading the Chicago Sun-Times parent.

Freidheim was at the helm of Sun-Times Media Group during its most tumultuous period. The company was reeling from the revelations that former Chairman Conrad Black and other top executives had looted the company through phony fees and contracts as they furiously sold off newspapers. When one of those executives, former Sun-Times Publisher David Radler, was removed, the paper discovered massive circulation fraud that required refunds to advertisers in the millions of dollars. Black is in federal prison serving a sentence for fraud and obstruction of justice. Radler, who testified in Black's prosecution, was recently released from prison.

At Sun-Times Media Group, Freidheim chopped away at expenses by outsourcing, laying off employees and folding newspapers. The paper wrung out $50 million in expenses in the first half of 2008, and committed to reducing costs another $50 million in the first half of this year.

In an interview in Thursday's Sun-Times, Freidheim said the company needs to shake out $75 million in more cuts for it to break even.

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