Kemp will remain with Penton until a successor has been named. Penton said a national search for a replacement will begin immediately.
âPentonâs business conditions have improved, and the company has achieved a level of stability that we have not experienced during the past few years,â Kemp said in a statement. âConsequently, the board of directors and I have agreed that the time is right for a transition to new leadership.â
Kemp joined Penton in 1996 as CEO and became chairman in 2001. He oversaw a series of acquisitions, including the ill-fated purchase of Mecklermedia and its Internet World magazine and trade show. The acquisition strategy left the company with long-term debt of more than $300 million.
The combination of the debt and reduced revenue and cash flow--the result of a steep downturn in advertising spending in Pentonâs core technology and manufacturing markets--caused the companyâs share price to tumble from more than $30 per share in 2000 to less than $1 last year, when it was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.
In early trading Wednesday, Penton shares were at 79 cents, up a penny from Tuesdayâs close.