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Hoiles Fails In Bid To Break Up Freedom Newspapers Inc.

June 2, 1987

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ Freedom Newspapers Inc. won a judgment Tuesday denying dissident Harry Hoiles’ bid to break up the family-owned newspaper group in order to give him a one-third share.

Hoiles failed to prove that other family members conspired to squeeze him out of the corporation, Orange County Superior Court Judge Leonard Goldstein ruled.

Goldstein issued a summary judgment in the defendants’ favor at their request without the defense having to present a case in the non-jury trial.

″I’m delighted, of course, absolutely delighted,″ Freedom attorney Robert Currie said. ″I may even have a glass of champagne, maybe two.″

Hoiles and his attorney, Vernon W. Hunt, went into conference after the ruling, and Hunt said he was unsure if the ruling would be appealed.

″Mr. Hoiles is very disappointed. Whether he wants to go through more of this agony is a decision he has to make when he is over the disappointment,″ Hunt said.

Freedom is the nation’s 14th largest media group by circulation. It owns or operates 29 newspapers, including The Orange County Register, five television stations and other properties.

Currie and majority shareholders attorney Leonard Hampel said they hoped the judge’s decision will end the feud.

″There’s no reason this should have any lasting effects on the chain,″ Hampel said. ″The corporation has been very successful and should continue to be very successful. Harry is still very much a part of the paper.″

″I hope this means that the Hoiles family in toto can now get back to running Freedom Newspapers in the successful manner that they have in the past, that the wounds will become scars and they can work together rather than against each other,″ Currie said.

He said the suit stemmed from Hoiles’ bitterness over not succeeding his brother, Clarence, as head of Freedom Newspapers after Clarence Hoiles’ death in 1981.

″This case is about one simple fact and one only - the disappointment and anger of Harry Hoiles,″ Currie told Goldstein in opening arguments last March.

His sister, Mary Jane Hoiles Hardie, and Clarence Hoiles’ family offered in 1982 to buy out Harry Hoiles’ stake in the company for $74 million, but he refused and sued.

Goldstein found Tuesday that Freedom’s counterproposal was not in itself an act of unfairness or an abuse of authority.

″Majority rule was and is the prescribed standard for conducting business,″ he said, and revising company leadership was the majority’s right - ″not the product of a conspiracy, abuse of power or wrong, per se.″

The judge made no ruling on whether the $74 million was a fair amount to offer for the one-third share.

Harry Hoiles has estimated the value of the group at about $1 billion. In 1985 he offered $670 million for two-thirds of the company. Freedom refused his $108-a-share offer.

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