Contacted at his home today, hours before departing for a vacation in Portugal, Mr. Dunning declined comment to Adage.com: "I'm not going to talk about anything."
The move -- the speed of which surprised outside observers if not those inside the company -- came on the heels of a dreadful quarter for the troubled tech publisher. Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $3.5 million -- down from $32.4 million a year previous. Revenue fell to $78.9 million from $125.6 million, and ad pages were off 47.5%. At the time, the company announced it had begun a 23% reduction in its workforce.
The deal also marks the end of a long relationship between Mr. Dunning and Mr. Stein.
Though Mr. Dunning's most renowned deal with Willis Stein involved men's enthusiast publisher Petersen Publishing -- Mr. Dunning had turned a $465 million purchase of Petersen Publishing into a $1.5 billion cash-and-debt deal with Emap PLC less than two and a half years later -- he had first been backed by an Avy Stein-related company in a 1992 deal for a yellow pages publisher.