Ripplewood Comes Clean on Mary Berner

Plans to Install Her as President-CEO Once RDA Deal Done

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Five days after word first leaked out, Ripplewood Holdings and its planned acquisition object, Reader's Digest Association, came out today to make it clear: If the deal goes through, Ripplewood wants Mary G. Berner to take over Reader's Digest as president-CEO.
Mary Berner
Mary Berner Credit: Scott Gries

The inside man
The companies had been trying to stay mum on the subject, but it slipped into public view with a mention in the Delaney Report on Nov. 27. Advertising Age later reported that not only was Ms. Berner, the former Fairchild Publications CEO, likely to return to magazines on top of Reader's Digest, but she had a previously unnoticed inside track: Ripplewood Managing Director Robert L. Berner III is her little brother.

That connection also suggested that Ms. Berner could have played a role in the Ripplewood-Reader's Digest deal in the first place.

Today's official word dispelled any lingering doubts and added new details to the picture. If the acquisition closes, Ripplewood plans to install its executive chairman, Harvey Golub, as chairman of Reader's Digest Association. He will succeed Thomas O. Ryder, who is retiring. Eric Schrier, the current Reader's Digest president-CEO, will continue in that role until the deal is completed.

Official statement
Unlike the statement released announcing Ripplewood's intent to buy Reader's Digest, today's statement included no word from Ms. Berner's brother Robert.

"We are very excited about the prospect of acquiring Reader's Digest Association and Mary Berner becoming president and CEO of this great company," Timothy C. Collins, CEO, Ripplewood, said in a statement. "Mary is one of the most respected and sought-after executives in the publishing industry. We believe her leadership skills are ideally suited to take Reader's Digest Association to its next stage of growth and influence worldwide."

As for Mr. Schrier, Mr. Collins said Ripplewood wants his help after the deal closes in focusing "on the next generation of transformational growth products and businesses."
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