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VanBennekon Resigning as President of UPI

July 29, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Pieter VanBennekom announced today he has resigned as president and chief executive officer of United Press International to become senior vice president and managing editor of EastNet, a new business news service.

The announcement was the first change in UPI’s top management to be announced since the 85-year-old news service was sold last month to the Middle East Broadcasting Centre of London, a Saudi-owned Middle East television network based in London.

″After spending two harrowing years trying to keep UPI afloat while we searched for a buyer, I told the new owners the day they concluded the purchase that I felt it was time for me to move on, and that they ought to put their own team in as quickly as possible,″ VanBennekom said.

″My own timing then became accelerated when the EastNet oportunity - which required that I be on board by Aug. 1 - came along,″ VanBennekom said in a news release statement distributed by EastNet.

Steve Geimann, executive editor and vice president of UPI, said that Robert Kennedy, deputy chief executive of Middle East Broadcasting, would act as chief executive until a successor to VanBennekom is named.

Both EastNet and UPI said VanBennekom was not in the office today. He has an unlisted home telephone number.

The announcement said EastNet plans to provide comprehensive financial and business coverage of Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union, as well as Central and Eastern Europe and China.

The agency said it opened its first full-time bureau in Ukraine on July 13 and expects to open bureaus in the coming weeks in Moscow; St. Petersburg, Russia; Prague, Czechoslovakia; Warsaw, Poland; Budapest, Hungary, and Beijing.

The president and chief executive officer of EastNet is Milton R. Benjamin, also a former president of UPI.

He said EastNet would sell its service directly to corporate and media clients in the United States, Europe and the Far East.

Middle East Broadcasting offered the successful bid for UPI at a bankruptcy court sale in New York. The news service has lost money for 30 years and owes creditors about $60 million. It was the second time in a decade that it had been in bankruptcy reorganization.

At one time, UPI was the second largest American news agency, behind The Associated Press.