PRIMEDIA CEO LEAVES

Internal Conflicts Cited in Tom Rogers' Exit

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Primedia and its chairman-CEO, Tom Rogers, ended their closely watched marriage early today over what a company statement termed "real differences in the strategic direction of the company."

The move, which came as Mr. Rogers and

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Primedia were negotiating his new contract to replace the one expiring at the end of 2003, followed press reports that the future of Mr. Rogers position was in doubt. The conflict between Mr. Rogers, who wished to pursue growth strategies for the heavily leveraged company, and the board, which was concerned about debt reduction, reached a final impasse late last week, said an individual familiar with the matter.

No comment
A Primedia spokesman directed most inquiries to company statements, and through his assistant Mr. Rogers declined to comment.

Primedia, publisher of titles such as Seventeen, New York and scores of other niche magazines, is controlled by buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

The immediate replacements to Mr. Rogers suggest KKR is strengthening its oversight of Primedia. Charles McCurdy, formerly president of Primedia, will serve as interim CEO as the company continues to search for a permanent top executive. But Dean B. Nelson, the CEO of management consulting firm Capstone Consulting, which had been reviewing Primedia operations for over a year, will serve as interim chairman. Capstone has worked with other KKR-related companies as well.

Arrived in 1999
Mr. Rogers came to Primedia in October 1999, fresh form a stint as president of NBC cable in which he played roles in the creation of CNBC and MSNBC. At the time, he called Primedia "a traditional media company that has been just waiting to have its new-media potential developed."

Judging by the stock price, though, Mr. Rogers' ideas did not translate into especially successful strategy. While under his watch, Primedia avoided the darkest speculations media observers suggested -- that the company would be broken up and sold piecemeal, or that its debt load would prove unserviceable -- and last year it hit earnings targets some thought unachievable.

Still, when his appointment was announced in 1999, stock rose to 12 3/8 -- a price KKR dearly hoped Mr. Rogers would substantially improve. In midday trading today, Primedia's stock was up 11 cents to $2.91.

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