Mr. Kliger, 52, has long wanted to run his own business. In 1997, he moved from an exec VP post at Conde Nast Publications to a top sales slot at sibling Parade. His goal was to succeed Carlo Vittorini as president, but the 70-year-old executive has shown no signs he's ready to step down.
So, instead, Mr. Kliger was tapped to succeed David Pecker as the chief of Hachette's U.S. magazine company. Mr. Pecker left last month to run American Media.
STARTS JUNE 1
Mr. Kliger, who is said to have a compensation package of up to $3 million a year, starts his new job June 1.
"My plan is to walk over there and get to know the place," said Mr. Kliger, who met with Hachette department heads for the first time May 14, just one day after returning from a Parade sales meeting. "I want to make sure I give the people there a positive environment and hopefully create an atmosphere where they feel like they are all heading in a good direction."
Hachette is legendary for its cost controls, and observers believe the company's French parent was looking for someone to stay that course.
Mr. Kliger's strongest suit, however, may be his ad sales expertise and relationships with executives in categories such as fashion and automotive. Those are key to Hachette, whose titles include Elle and Road & Track.
"Jack is a superb choice for that job. He has terrific relationships in apparel and auto, and both of those are critical for that company," said Dan Brewster, president of American Express Publishing:
Mr. Brewster had been a finalist for the Hachette job but pulled himself out of the running weeks ago.
The other finalist along with Messrs. Brewster and Kliger after a three-month search was John Fennel, Hachette exec VP-chief operating officer. He is said to be disappointed he was not tapped for the job, but is expected to stay with the company. Mr. Fennell, 54, has a multiyear contract with the company.
"We wanted to take the time necessary to conduct a thorough search to find the absolute best person to head our U.S. subsidiary, which is an extremely important part of our global media operation," Hachette Filipacchi Media Chairman-CEO Gerald de Roquemaurel said through a spokesman. "The selection of Jack Kliger speaks volumes about the success of our search."
Industry executives viewed Hachette under Mr. Pecker as a well-managed company that relied heavily on the strength of its brands. Hachette's U.S. division had estimated 1998 revenues of $570 million, according to one person with knowledge of the financials. Hachette's top moneymakers are Woman's Day, Car & Driver, Elle, American Photography and Road & Track. Three titles acquired or launched under Mr. Pecker -- John F. Kennedy Jr.'s George, Mirabella and Travel Holiday -- are still unprofitable.
"It's been cheaply run, but not poorly run," noted one executive at a rival publisher.
The logical move, another observer said, is to sell or discontinue the money-losers. Hachette recently sold Family Life, also acquired under Mr. Pecker, to a Time Inc. unit. Mr. Kliger said it's too early to comment on specific plans going forward.
Mr. Kliger leaves Advance Publications, parent of Parade and Conde Nast, after nearly 20 years. A former publisher of GQ and Glamour, he was at one time considered a candidate to run Conde Nast, a job that went instead to current President-CEO Steven T. Florio.
"I felt I was ready to run an organization," Mr. Kliger said last week. "Fortunately for [Conde Nast Chairman S.I.] Newhouse, he's got all the strong presidents he needs. I'm not going for negative reasons, I'm going for positive