Primedia CEO ankles

Company preps for possible split

Specialty and trade magazine publishing took a hit Tuesday as Primedia announced a shakeup at the top and a possible split of the company.

The embattled publisher said CEO Kelly Conlin was leaving and would be replaced by chairman Dean Nelson, ahead of a possible move to divide the company into two. Split would cleave consumer-guide unit and titles in its Enthusiast and education divisions. Consumer Guides includes titles like Apartment Guide, while the Enthusiast division publishes specialty mags including Stereophile plus Power & Motoryacht. Education unit owns school net Channel One.

Company also announced earnings could drop 10% for fiscal 2005.

Primedia at one time owned a number of highly valued consumer and trade pubs, including New York, Seventeen and Modern Bride. It also bought About.com during the Internet bubble. But company has been hit hard by declines in controlled- and modest-circ mags. It has since sold many of its assets to New York investment banker Bruce Wasserstein, who now owns the trade-mag group as well as New York Magazine. It has also sold About.com to the New York Times Co. Primedia’s stock tumbled 35% Tuesday to $1.98 per share.

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