Buyout Barons Plan Primedia Breakup: CEO Resigns in Protest

18 April 2003

US media group Primedia, whose publishing stable includes Seventeen and New York magazines, is to be broken-up by its controlling shareholder, the leveraged buyout machine Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Primedia’s respected chief executive Thomas S Rogers has resigned in protest, a move attributed by co-director Henry R Kravis to “real differences in the strategic direction of the company”. The decision to split, said Kravis, was mutual.

According to KKR, the dismemberment will be phased over the next twelve to eighteen months. Up for auction are Primedia’s flagship magazine title New York, its television group, including the educational Channel One Network; its business-to-business group, which includes trade magazines like Cable World and American Demographics. Also likely to go under the hammer are, elements of the directories group and enthusiast magazine group.

Rogers was poached by KKR from NBC in 1999 with a brief to expand Primedia from a motley collection of magazines and directories into an integrated media company that embraced the [then] Eldorado of the internet. Given the ravening of the time toward all things cyber, KKR's feral instinct sensed a killing. It was disappointed.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff