Time Inc. Names Rich Battista CEO

Time Inc. on Tuesday named Rich Battista its new chief executive officer, continuing a shuffling of the top ranks at the biggest U.S. magazine publisher.

He will take the helm, effective immediately, from Joe Ripp, who will continue as executive chairman and remain with the company through Sep. 30, 2018.

In an interview, Mr. Ripp, 64 years old, said he had a “health incident” a few weeks ago that made him realize he could no longer continue to start his workday at 5 a.m.

“I had to question the hours I was putting in,” he said. “I’m fine, but after a long conversation with my family I’ve decided to continue as executive chairman. Rich has the experience in print, digital and television to further the cultural transition here.”

Mr. Battista, 52 years old, said that his priority is to “turn Time Inc. into a compelling growth story.“ Time’s magazines include Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple and celebrity publications, such as People and Entertainment Weekly.

Mr. Battista, an entertainment and media industry veteran, joined Time Inc. last year. He acquired HelloGiggles.com to boost the company’s ties with millennial women; oversaw the recent launch of Instant, a video, social and mobile-first website that focuses on new social-media stars and is expected to complement celebrity coverage provided by People and Entertainment Weekly; and is orchestrating the launch of a People/Entertainment Weekly over-the-top streaming network.

Mr. Battista said digital growth and investments will continue to be a priority at Time Inc., as well as extending Time Inc.’s brands across new businesses, such as the People/Entertainment Weekly Network.

When asked whether Time Inc. needs a merger partner, Mr. Battista said he’s focused on building revenue and maximizing shareholder value. “Anytime there is activity in the marketplace, we are willing to listen and look,” he added. “My mandate is to take these brands, and the transformation under way here to the next level.”

Mr. Battista was promoted in July, amid a companywide restructuring, to president of all U.S. brands, further centralizing the company’s advertising sales team in a bid to build closer ties to key marketers.

Previously, Mr. Battista served as CEO of Mandalay Sports Media, held several senior management roles at Fox Television and was CEO of the publicly traded Gemstar-TV Guide International.

Mr. Battista’s salary will increase to $1.2 million with target incentives of 150% of that base, according to company filings. Mr. Ripp will continue to receive a base salary at the current rate, plus an annual bonus of at least $1.4 million.

The change comes as Time Inc. faces continued print advertising declines and increasing competition from such digital upstarts as Vice Media, BuzzFeed and Vox Media, all of which have attracted young, digital savvy audiences and the marketers who want to reach them.

Last month, Time Inc. cut its forecast for the year, as higher digital ad sales were offset by falling print, subscription and newsstand revenue in the most recent quarter.

The lower guidance, paired with the decline in second-quarter revenue and profit, underscored the challenges that the country’s largest magazine publisher faces. It is competing against many all-digital rivals during a period when the media business is increasingly becoming mobile first.

Time Inc. now expects annual revenue to be between flat and 1.5% higher than a year ago. It had previously forecast growth of 1% to 5%. The lower forecast in part reflected declining print, subscription and newsstand revenue.

On Tuesday, the publisher affirmed its expectations for third-quarter revenue as previously outlined during its second-quarter earnings call Aug. 4. Time Inc. said during the call that it was seeing “some sequential improvement of print advertising booking trends for the third quarter.”

Shares of Time Inc. fell 0.4% to $14.41 in morning trading in New York. Before Tuesday, the stock had lost a quarter of its value over the past 12 months.

Source : http://www.wsj.com/articles/time-inc-names-rich-battista-ceo-1473771626

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