Trading Of Maxwell Stocks Halted For Second ay With PM-Maxwell, Bjt
LONDON (AP) _ Trading of stock in Robert Maxwell’s two publicly held media companies was suspended for a second day today in wake of the publisher’s death.
Also today, the boards of directors of Maxwell Communication Corp. PLC and Mirror Group Newspapers PLC confirmed that two of Maxwell’s sons would be chairmen of the companies.
Ian Maxwell, 35, had been named acting chairman of the Mirror Group and Kevin Maxwell, 32, acting chairman of Maxwell Communications following their father’s death Tuesday. They inherited a debt-strapped, tangled web of firms that might have to be further dismantled to satisfy their bankers, analysts say.
The boards said today they had asked London’s Stock Exchange to continue a trading suspension in the two stocks.
They suspended trading Tuesday afternoon pending the results of a rescue search for Maxwell, who disappeared at sea off the Canary Islands.
The London’s Stock Exchange might conduct an investigation into trading in Maxwell Communication’s shares because they dropped sharply before Maxwell’s disappearance was announced.
In an ironic twist, the news of Maxwell’s death could boost the shares of his companies, experts say.
″Maxwell has always suffered from the ‘Max Factor,’ which has arisen because of his unpredictable nature and the fact that he’s basically a bully and even though he has achieved results,″ said Peter Checketts, financial editor of the newsletter European Media Business and Finance.
Maxwell traditionally retained control of his companies, and he was a mercurial hands-on manager, until his attention was diverted to a new project.
Checketts said Maxwell had been grooming his sons for succession and opined that they seem ″pretty able managers but fairly inexperienced.″
″They (the sons) will probably consolidate and merge his activities and we might see some disposals,″ Checketts said. Analysts said the American businesses were the most likely to be put up for sale.
However, it might be difficult to find buyers and fetch good prices in these times of lower revenues from advertisements.
Maxwell accumulated his debt building up a publishing empire after turning away from printing, running into trouble when interest rates rose and the recession set in.
The highly complex Maxwell empire was divided into three main groups.
Maxwell Communication, publicly held but Maxwell-controlled, owns the book and encyclopedia publishers Macmillan Inc. and P.F. Collier. It also owns the Official Airline Guides, Prentice Hall Information Services and Berlitz language schools.
Maxwell’s Mirror Group, 49 percent of which Maxwell sold on the London stock market in May, publishes the Daily Mirror, Britain’s second-largest newspaper with a circulation of 2.9 million, and four other British newspapers.
Maxwell’s private interests are grouped under Robert Maxwell Holdings Ltd. They include the New York Daily News, which Maxwell bought from the Tribune Co. in March and The European, a weekly English-language newspaper distributed across the European continent.
To complicate matters, the Liechtenstein-based Maxwell Foundation, a charitable trust, in turn owns stakes in the Maxwell companies.