Magazine empires lose their top execs

The magazine biz has seen plenty of tumult lately, but Wednesday provided a double dose as the heads of both Hearst and Hachette Filipacchi ankled their posts.

Hearst’s Victor F. Ganzi, a longtime company vet, exited as prexy and chief exec over “irreconcilable policy differences” with the company’s board over the future direction of the company. While left unspecified, the differences most likely involved the headache-inducing task facing every media company: figuring out how to grow in both the traditional and digital realms.

Known for marquee magazines like Cosmopolitan, O: The Oprah Magazine and Esquire, Hearst also owns 29 TV stations and newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle. It also has stakes in cablers including ESPN and Lifetime.

Hachette, which owns Elle and Road and Track (and the recently shuttered Premiere), announced that Jack Kliger was leaving the chief exec job and becoming chairman, a newly created job. Replacing him will be Alain Lemarchand of parent company Lagardere.

Hearst said former chief exec Frank Bennack, who had been serving as vice chairman of the board, has been asked to step in as interim CEO. A search for a new chief exec is under way, and Ganzi emphasized he was going to help with the transition.

In a statement, Ganzi said the company has posted record profits in 15 of the past 16 years. He has worked for Hearst for 18 years, the past six as CEO.

Kliger, whose Internet-fueled designs for Hachette never took flight the way he imagined, hands over the reins Sept. 1. The latter stages of his run atop Hachette were marked by a stint as head of trade group the Magazine Publishers of America and the shuttering of struggling titles such as ElleGirl, Shock and Premiere.

The company last year acquired digital ad firm JumpStart Media and sought to integrate it with Car and Driver and Road and Track.

Kliger called his successor a “very capable executive” with a wealth of finance-oriented experience.

Didier Quillot, chief exec of Lagardere Active, said of Kliger, “He is a widely respected leader, and, over the past nine years, Jack has done an outstanding job of restructuring the company’s portfolio and developing new-media platforms. As a result, we are in a solid position in the U.S.”

The market trails only France in terms of company revenue.

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