Mac the Mouth Retires Hurt from Magazine Fray

26 December 2005

Kelvin Mackenzie - one time editor of Britain's top selling tabloid newspaper The Sun, a strident megaphone for Rupert Murdoch's views on money, politics, the universe and everything - has enjoyed rather less success in his subsequent career as a businessman.

Not only did Mac retire earlier this year bloodied by his stint as ceo of The Wireless Group (co-owned by Murdoch and his party-crashing partner John C Malone), he again conceded defeat last week ... this time as executive chairman of magazine publisher Highbury House Communications.

Earlier this year Mac purchased a 20% stake in the ailing company and appointed himself chairman and ceo [WAMN: 25-Aug-05], proclaiming that Highbury had "at its heart, good titles and core profitability".

Among publisher's assets are men's magazine Front and Practical Woodworking.

However, Mackenzie's short stint at Highbury appears to have been based on the panic school of management. First out of the window was ceo Mark Simpson, followed by group finance director Owen Davies.

Mike Frey was appointed as chief operating officer on September 30, only to quit eighteen days later; while new finance director Tony DeBiase joined on November 1 - just fifty-two days before Mackenzie himself leapt.

The purple pejoratives for which the former Sun editor was famed in his tabloid glory days were notably absent from his Highbury abdication speech. "I gave it my best shot," he admitted, "but was defeated by a mountain of debt which had been accumulated over the past three years."

According to the Financial Times, the group survives as a going concern only with the support of its banks.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff