Hanley Wood’s CEO Frank Anton is transitioning into a chairman role, the company announced today. Along with that, former Hanley Wood president Peter Goldstone, who left during a corporate restructuring in November 2010, is returning to the company as CEO. The changes will take effect in early May.
Anton has led the company, one of the biggest and most dynamic in b-to-b publishing, through extraordinary highs and lows. He most recently guided the company through a much-needed debt reorganization plan, reducing long-term debt from $440 million to $80 million.
Goldstone had been president for the company for just over a year before being let go. “Consistent with our business strategy of streamlining our operations into one integrated media organization, our Board of Directors has determined that it is appropriate to restructure our senior management team by eliminating the position of president,” Anton said at the time in a statement e-mailed to FOLIO:. “As a result, Peter Goldstone is leaving the company, effective immediately.”
A few months later, Goldstone was named president of Atlantic Media’s Government Executive Media Group. As a result of Goldstone’s departure from Atlantic Media, group publisher Tim Hartman has just been named president.
If there were every any hard feelings, those have been swept aside as Goldstone returns to the top spot at Hanley Wood. "After spending over 20 great years with Hanley Wood in positions of increasing operational responsibility and following the successful completion of our recent balance sheet recapitalization, I felt that it was time to take a step back so I could focus more of my time on helping the company from a higher-level strategic perspective," says Anton in a statement. "Given how much I care about Hanley Wood and its employees, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable making this move if it weren’t for the fact that I was able to recruit such a high-caliber and dynamic leader as Peter Goldstone back to the company."
UPDATE: Discussions over a leadership change began when new ownership group Oaktree Capital Management was in the latter stages of executing on the debt restructuring, Anton tells Folio:. "They started talking to me about what role I wanted to play and asked if a transition to chairman was acceptable. I said, yes, it was. I still wanted to see the company through its rebound. We’ve taken it on the chin over the last five years and I wanted to stay around and help it reestablish into a growth business."
In order to move into that role, however, Anton needed to shed many of his day-to-day responsibilities. He says he had 10 or 11 direct reports and was spending most of his time in meetings. And now that the company is in a better financial position, Anton can focus on the company’s new 3-year plan, which has been upgraded since the refinancing to be more aggressive on growth, adding another 25-30 percent to the bottom line and another 15 percent to revenues, over and above the original plan.
As for Goldstone, Anton notes that he won’t need the usual 6 to 12 month learning curve new CEOs typically require. "We’ve remained good friends," adds Anton. "He’d done a great job at Hanley Wood over a decade. I think the fact that he got to leave and gain a different perspective at Atlantic Media is good. They’re probably ahead of us when it comes to digital media and he’s going to bring some good ideas."
Goldstone’s departure in 2010, says Anton, was very much a reflection of where the company was at the time. "We weren’t quite in a free-fall in terms of revenue and earnings, but we were hitting bottom at that point."