Toledo ISP Buckeye Broadband Could Be Up For Sale

Block Communications

Former CEO and Board Chairman Allan Block warred with his twin brother John Robinson Block.

Ted Hearn Toledo ISP Buckeye Broadband Could Be Up For Sale Allan Block, former CEO and Board Chairman of Block Communications Inc.

WASHINGTON, May 21 – A family feud has cost Allan Block his job, according to published reports.

Until Monday, Block was CEO and Board Chairman of Block Communications Inc. (BCI) in Toledo, Ohio. In addition to newspapers and TV station assets, BCI owns Buckeye Broadband, an Internet Service Provider with an estimated 120,000 subscribers in the Toledo area.

Allan Block’s departure after decades in charge likely clears the way for the sale of the company, which has been the property of the Block family for more than a century.

Allan Block had been resisting the sale of BCI over the objections of his family members, including his twin brother John Robinson Block, who is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“The Board fired Allan Block for seeking to enforce his contractual rights in an effort to protect the company and employees from a sale of BCI,” a spokesman for Allan Block told CBS affiliate WTOL11 in Toledo. “Mr. Block believes the Board’s decision is in clear breach of his employment agreement and will be evaluating next steps to remedy this action in court.”

On May 8, Allan Block sued BCI, his brother John, and other family members for allegedly excluding him from internal discussions about the sale of the company – in apparent violation of his employment agreement.

According to his motion for a preliminary injunction, Allan Block – who owns 25% of the company – was not unalterably opposed to an eventual sale. His dispute with his family was over the timing of the sale, because Allan Block thought current market conditions undervalued the company

“[Allan Block] is not trying to prevent a sale,” the motion said. “Indeed, as [Allan Block] and the company’s longtime financial advisor have explained to the Board, the timing for a potential sale is suboptimal given the market valuations for some of the company’s core assets.”  

The sale of Buckeye Broadband might not be imminent. The litigation could drag on for a long time or it’s possible the Block family could reach a settlement that excludes the sale of certain assets, including Buckeye Broadband – which is probably the most valuable property in the BCI portfolio.

Allan Block, who owns 25% of BCI, will continue to serve on the company’s board, according to a report by the Post-Gazette.

 “We appreciate Allan’s contributions to the company for the past 30 years and he will continue to be our colleague on BCI’s board of directors,” board member Karen Block Johnese said in a prepared statement on Monday, according to the Post-Gazette.  

BCI was started by Paul Block, Allan’s grandfather, 123 years ago.