Top Execs At Hachette, Hearst Exit, Streamlined Ops Expected To Follow

Jack Kliger is stepping aside as CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media as of Sept. 1, ceding the role to Alain Lemarchand, previously the COO of Lagardere Active, which owns Hachette.

Kliger will remain with Hachette as chairman, helping make strategic decisions, including acquisitions and partnerships. Over the last year, Kliger oversaw the purchase of several Internet properties, including Jumpstart, an automotive ad network.

Lemarchand is the second top appointment to come to Hachette from French corporate management--following Philippe Guelton, who was appointed as executive vice president and COO in 2003. Guelton was previously the president and CEO of Hachette's Northern Asia business, centered on Japan.

(Hachette Filipacchi's American and international businesses fall under the umbrella of Paris-based Lagardere Active, which also includes Lagardere's radio, TV and digital businesses. Lagardere Active, in turn, is a division of Lagardere SCA, a conglomerate that owns a variety of businesses outside media.)

Lemarchand's corporate marching orders are a matter of speculation, but judging by his tenure at Lagardere Active, he will probably be expected to streamline Hachette--a process that will include building up its digital business but possibly cutting staff and even closing less profitable print publications.

In his previous role in 2007, Lemarchand helped Didier Quillot, the chairman of Lagardere SCA, cut 700 to 1,000 positions at Paris headquarters--representing about 7% to 10% of the French work force. The staff cuts, and the closing of some publications, came as part of Lagardere's "Active 2009" plan to trim costs, while increasing digital revenues to 5% to 10% of the total by 2009.

In recent years, Hachette has closed the North American editions of Elle Girl and Premiere, with the latter maintaining an online presence. Currently, some of its flagship titles are doing well in terms of ad pages, including Elle--up 5.7% in the first quarter--and Car and Driver, up 3.5%. Others are holding their own, with American Photo basically flat and Woman's Day down 1.8%. Some of its smaller titles, however, are not faring so well, with Metropolitan Home down 8.1%, Boating 24.1%, Cycle World 23.9% and Flying 11%.

Also on Wednesday, it was announced the Victor F. Ganzi is stepping down as president and CEO of the Hearst Corp. after almost two decades with the company, because of "irreconcilable policy differences with the Board of Trustees about the future direction of the company."

After joining the company in 1990, Ganzi served as general counsel, then its COO, before succeeding Frank A. Bennack, Jr. as CEO in 2001. While they look for a replacement, the Board of Trustees has asked Bennack, currently the vice chairman of the Board of Directors, to return to the CEO role.

Hearst, a privately held corporation, did not specify where Ganzi disagreed with the directors, except to say that it was in matters of "policy."

While the publisher and broadcaster has pursued an aggressive digital growth strategy, many of its print publications are struggling. Its consumer magazines saw moderate declines in ad pages during the first quarter of 2008, with Cosmopolitan down 4.5%, Good Housekeeping 1.7%, Esquire 8.2%, Marie Claire 5.2%, Redbook 4%, and Seventeen 4.1%.

On the newspaper side, its flagship properties are suffering from the general downward trend in circulation. Compared to the same period in 2006-2007, in the six months between October 2007 and March 2008, Sunday circulation fell 3% at the San Francisco Chronicle, 7% at the Houston Chronicle, and 3% at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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