Two months after he bought a share of the United Press International news agency and became chairman of its board of directors, Nashville lawyer John Jay Hooker resigned from the company yesterday after he lost a management dispute with the majority owners and they rejected his offer to buy them out.
His abrupt departure, after a brief but voluble tenure in which he traveled the country promoting UPI and drumming up new business ventures, leaves the troubled agency under the full control of Douglas Ruhe and William Geissler, the young Nashville businessmen who bought it last year.
In an unusually candid statement issued by UPI, Ruhe said Hooker "has developed his own style of management over many years, as have we. We found that our styles were not as compatible as we had hoped."
Hooker, confirming the split, said "It's their deal. They were kind enough to allow me to share control of UPI for $1. I felt that when we had a difference of opinion, they were entitled to buy my share back for $1.
"I think the company has great value and offered to pay them several millions for their shares. I'm sure they think it has great value." He declined to discuss his differences with Ruge and Geissler.
Hooker's ouster was only the latest in a series of internal shakeups that have rocked the venerable news agency in the past year.
The original partners of Ruhe and Geissler in the purchase from E. W. Scripps Co. dropped out and sold their shares to Hooker.
Scores of senior employes have been laid off in an economy drive, but UPI has continued to lose money. Meanwhile, reports continue to circulate that UPI will soon move its news and business operations out of New York.
As a privately held company, UPI does not disclose the financial details of its business, and the exact terms under which Hooker first bought and then sold his shares were not revealed.
Ruhe, UPI's chief executive officer, whose style is as close to the vest as Hooker's is flamboyant and outspoken, called Hooker a "brilliant entrepreneur and promoter," but the tenor of his statement made clear he thought Hooker was moving too fast in his elaborate plans for new business ventures.
UPI "will be entering new business ventures in the future," he said, "but our main interests continue to be in the traditional newspaper and broadcast field. UPI is growing and thriving again, and the new ventures will come one step at a time."
Hooker is the former publisher of the Nashville Banner.