Insiders Cite Health Issues

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NEW YORK ( -- Steven T. Florio, CEO of Conde Nast Publications, has stepped down, according to the company.

The publisher of a stable of upmarket titles such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and Gourmet informed senior management of the development and plans to issue a press release this afternoon.

Mr. Florio's unexpected departure is said to be related to health issues.

According to a statement issued this afternoon, Mr. Florio will become vice chairman of Advance Magazine Group effective Feb. 16.

Replacement named
Mr. Florio is being replaced by Charles Townsend, chief operating officer of Advance Magazine Group. Mr. Townsend earlier was publisher of Conde Nast's Glamour magazine and also headed the New York Times Co.'s women's magazine publishing group.

In the statement, Mr. Florio said, "I have been thinking about a change for some time. Performance-wise, 2003 was Conde Nast's best year yet and I wanted to end my tenure as president and CEO on a high note."

Conde Nast career
Mr. Florio had been president of Conde Nast since 1994 and CEO since 1996. Mr. Florio was named president of The New Yorker in May 1985 when it was purchased by Advance Publications, and in January 1988 he was given the additional title of CEO. Prior to The New Yorker he was publisher of GQ for six years.

Mary Berner, CEO of Fairchild Publications, a Conde Nast sibling within parent Advance Publications, said simply: "We wish him well. Steve is terrific. I am sorry to see him go." Ms. Berner said Messrs. Florio and Townsend had already been working together closely.

Strong relationships
Karen Jacobs, executive vice president and director of print investment at Publicis Groupe's Starcom Worldwide, said: "It is a significant piece of news and is a big surprise. He has one of the most powerful positions in the business. There is no one else but Steve except Si [Newhouse, chairman of Advance Publications]. Steve is known for his strong relationships with publishers and with clients. He is a leader who is not shy with his opinions. He has been an outstanding success in terms of sales."

Advance divisions include Conde Nast, Fairchild, Golf Digest Cos. and Parade Publications.

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