GUERIN EXITING CONDE NAST TO BUILD HIS OWN COMPANY: AFTER HELPING PUBLISHER CREATE BASE IN ASIA, EXEC WANTS TO BE ENTREPRENEUR

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[hong kong] Conde Nast Publications' president-CEO for Asia Pacific, Didier Guerin, will bid au revoir to the New York-based publisher in December to establish his own Asia-based publishing and consulting company.

Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Conde Nast International, told Advertising Age a decision has not been made on whether to replace the Sydney-based Mr. Guer-in. That's because operational changes under consideration would eli-minate the regional position starting next year.

IN AUSTRALIA SINCE '91

Mr. Guerin, 48, hopes to capitalize on his vast network of contacts and local knowledge gathered since 1991, when he moved to Australia as Asia Pacific president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media. He joined Conde Nast four years later in the same position, and will maintain a close working relationship with his former employer after his departure.

His plans call for helping U.S. publishers establish operations and develop new titles in Asia, as well as helping Asian publishers develop modern management practices. He also would like to facilitate mergers and acquisitions within Asia's publishing community.

"I have launched magazines all over the world for more than two decades. After creating so much wealth for other people, I would like to establish some wealth for myself now," he said last week.

Despite the Asian financial crisis, he sees untapped potential for consumer magazines in several key markets, such as youth-oriented magazines in South Korea and titles targeting Japan's aging population, as well as general publications in Thailand and Taiwan.

While China is closed to foreign publishers, "Things are changing and I'm confident that within a few years, that market will be open to all foreign publishers. I want to be ready when this happens," he added.

He is creating a strategy-driven niche for himself, rather than operational, to spend more time at home in Sydney.

"My 8-year-old son has never seen his father for more than five days in a row," he said.

LAUNCHING 'VOGUE NIPPON'

Mr. Guerin will remain with Conde Nast through the end of 1999, largely to oversee the Japanese debut of Vogue Nippon, the biggest investment ever made by Conde Nast International.

He started in publishing in 1975 in his native France with Societe Generale de Presse. His career blossomed in the U.S., where he served as publisher of newly launched Elle in the early 1980s.

In 1985, he was promoted to president of Hachette Publications to oversee new developments in the U.S., including the launch of Premiere in a joint venture with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. In 1990, he was promoted to exec VP of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines in New York after the departure of Peter Diamandis.

His tenure there was somewhat stormy as several strong-willed U.S. publishers chafed under his hands-on management style.

"Despite last year's Asian crisis, [Mr. Guerin] managed to put Conde Nast on the map in Asia and to create magazine leaders in each country," Mr. Newhouse said. "I understand [his] desire to capitalize on his personal contacts and knowledge

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