KRAKOFF PLOTS AN INT'L SURGE FOR ADVANSTAR;FORMER CEO OF CAHNERS SEES RAPID GROWTH FOR BIZ-TO-BIZ PUBLISHING FIRM

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Robert Krakoff, who resigned as chairman-CEO of Cahners Publishing June 30, plans to use Advanstar Communications as a springboard for rapid international expansion in business-to-business magazines, exhibitions and niche consumer titles.

Mr. Krakoff is partnering with Hellman Friedman, a San Francisco investment house that won the bidding for Advanstar last May, paying Goldman, Sachs & Co. $237 million for the company.

`OUR FIRST PLATFORM'

"Advanstar is our first platform," Mr. Krakoff said in an interview with Advertising Age conducted from Milan, where he was vacationing.

Mr. Krakoff said he hopes to push the company's primarily domestic publications into international markets.

He will be based in Boston as chairman-CEO of Advanstar Holdings, the parent of Advanstar Communications, a publisher of some 50 trade titles plus related exhibitions; headquarters will remain in Cleveland.

ALIC TO HEAD EXHIBITION WING

As part of management changes expected to be unveiled today, James Alic, a longtime executive at Reed Exhibitions, a sister division of Cahners at Reed USA, will head Advanstar's exhibition wing. Mr. Alic has spent the past year as a VP at IBM Corp.

Mr. Krakoff is expected to embark on an acquisition spree similar to the one he helped engineer during Cahners' glory days.

In the mid-1980s, that company supplanted McGraw-Hill as the largest business-to-business publisher and began making inroads into consumer specialty books.

Mr. Krakoff, 61, the lone American on the board of Cahners parent Reed Elsevier, resigned after European executives insisted on tight fiscal controls and downplayed the ad-supported media businesses that had been at the heart of Cahners' rise.

As part of a corporate reversal on consumer publishing last year, Cahners sold its specialty consumer magazines to K-III Communications.

It's been a bumpy ride for Advanstar, too, following its $334.1 million buyout from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich by HBJ publishing executive Robert Edgell in 1987. The deal that resulted in the formation of Edgell Communications seemed more tied to the media frenzy of the era than to fiscal realities. By the early '90s recession, the company defaulted on its debt.

During the financial wranglings that followed, Mr. Edgell plunged to his death from his Florida condominium on New Year's Day 1991.

Eventually, the company entered into bankruptcy and a unit of Goldman Sachs bought out its primary lender and renamed the company Advanstar.

The company seemed to be slowly rebuilding when it hit another roadblock in 1993-94 after installing Ed Aster as CEO. Morale plunged as certain publication headquarters were relocated; overall profits and revenues stagnated. Little more than a year after taking the helm, Mr. Aster resigned.

Goldman Sachs turned to former Capital Cities/ABC publishing executive Gary Ingersoll, currently president-CEO of Advanstar Communications, to help position the company for a sale.

Revenue growth was fairly static in 1995, improving 2.5% to $145.3 million. Operating earnings jumped to $24.1 million on the year, compared with $9 million in the previous year.

In yet another bizarre twist, Mr. Ingersoll suffered a brain hemorrhage two weeks ago and is recovering in a New York hospital.

The deal to bring in Mr. Krakoff was in the works for months before his illness, however.MWorld view: Robert Krakoff wants to expand Advanstar's primarily domestic publications into international markets.

Advanstar rising

ican on the board of Cahners parent Reed Elsevier, resigned after European executives insisted on tight fiscal controls and downplayed the ad-supported media businesses that had been at the heart of Cahners' rise.

As part of a corporate reversal on consumer publishing last year, Cahners sold its specialty consumer magazines to K-III Communications.

ADVANSTAR'S BUMPY RIDE

It's been a bumpy ride for Advanstar, too, following its $334.1 million buyout from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich by HBJ publishing executive Robert Edgell in 1987. The deal that resulted in the formation of Edgell Communications seemed more tied to the media frenzy of the era than to fiscal realities. By the early '90s recession, the company defaulted on its debt.

During the financial wranglings that followed, Mr. Edgell plunged to his death from his Florida condominium on New Year's Day 1991.

Eventually, the company entered into bankruptcy and a unit of Goldman Sachs bought out its primary lender and renamed the company Advanstar.

THE ASTER FACTOR

The company seemed to be slowly rebuilding when it hit another roadblock in 1993-94 after installing Ed Aster as CEO. Morale plunged as certain publication headquarters were relocated; overall profits and revenues stagnated. Little more than a year after taking the helm, Mr. Aster resigned.

Goldman Sachs turned to former Capital Cities/ABC publishing executive Gary Ingersoll, currently president-CEO of Advanstar Communications, to help position the company for a sale.

Revenue growth was fairly static in 1995, improving 2.5% to $145.3 million. Operating earnings jumped to $24.1 million on the year, compared with $9 million in the previous year.

ANOTHER BIZARRE TWIST

In yet another bizarre twist, Mr. Ingersoll suffered a brain hemorrhage two weeks ago and is recovering in a New York hospital.

The deal to bring in Mr. Krakoff was in the works for months before his illness, however.

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