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Time Warner Names Joseph Ripp CEO of Time Inc.

Resolves One Area of Uncertainty as New State of Flux Begins

By Published on .

Time Warner has named Joseph Ripp the next CEO of Time Inc., resolving one big question as the publishing unit prepares to strike out on its own but surprising observers who had bet on another candidate.

Mr. Ripp is CEO of OneSource Information Services, a business information provider. He previously held a series of posts at Time Warner and Time Inc., which he joined in 1985, including senior VP, CFO and treasurer at Time Inc.; exec VP and CFO at Time Warner; and vice chairman of America Online. His appointment is effect in September.

Joseph Ripp
Joseph Ripp

"Joe is a seasoned executive who has been immersed in the intersection of digital, advertising and publishing for the past decade," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a statement. "He is respected as a strategic leader who has delivered financial results throughout his career, and he also happens to have a thorough understanding of Time Inc.'s business."

The CEO search has been underway since Time Warner said in March that it would spin off Time Inc. into a separate company, abandoning talks to combine most of its magazines with rival Meredith Corp. Time Inc. CEO Laura Lang told staffers that she would not continue in her post after the split. "After considerable thought, I have decided that taking the company through a transition to the public markets is not where my passion lies," she said in a memo then.

Mr. Bewkes thanked Ms. Lang today for her work. "With Joe's appointment, I want to thank Laura Lang for her work in helping to position Time Inc. so well as it prepares for its next chapter," he said in a memo to staff. "I am pleased she will be taking an office at Time Warner and serving as an advisor to our company through the separation."

Now Time Inc. employees will hope their latest CEO sticks. Ms. Lang has only held the CEO post since January 2012, and became a lame duck 14 months after arriving, but her tenure looks enduring by comparison with her predecessor, Jack Griffin, who exited after less than five months.

But the selection alone may help stabilize Time Inc. during a time of transition. Paul Caine, a 23-year veteran of the company and its chief revenue officer, and InStyle publisher Connie Anne Phillips have departed since the spin-off was announced, both reflecting and increasing the state of flux in the company's halls.

Many observers had predicted that the CEO opening would go to Michael Klingensmith, CEO of Star Tribune Media and a former CFO of Time Inc. An internal candidate, Time Inc. CFO Howard Averill, was named CFO at Time Warner earlier Monday.

But whoever took over was going to inherit a company facing some long-term challenges, including difficulties in print advertising. Ms. Lang's hire from digital agency Digitas, where she was CEO, was in part an effort to find better footing in new media. But Time Inc.'s first-quarter revenue dropped 5% to $737 million as as circulation revenue fell 11%. Its ad revenue edged up 2% because the company took back management of SI.com and Golf.com, whose addition made up for magazine ad revenue. In January Time Inc. laid off about 500 employees, or 6% of its total staff

Spinning off the magazine business will let Time Warner focus on its more profitable TV and film businesses. The company also argues that the split help Time Inc. attract a more natural shareholder base, though the new company will likely be laden with debt.

Other companies have taken similar steps as investors have cooled on publishing companies. News Corp. recently divided its newspaper operations from its TV and movie businesses. Tribune Company said earlier this month that it will make a similar move.

"Knowing Time Inc. as I have, I'm confident that it has all the elements for success as it enters a new chapter as an independent public company -- industry leadership, strong executives, powerful brands, great journalistic talent, and a track record of innovation," Mr. Ripp said in the Time Warner statement announcing his selection.

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