Star Tribune publisher Michael Klingensmith is a “leading contender” to become CEO of Time Inc., according to a Wall Street Journal report Tuesday.
The magazine division is expected to be spun out of Time Warner Inc. by the end of the year.
Citing unnamed sources, the Journal said a decision is expected in the next few weeks. Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes, who is leading the recruiting, hasn’t made a final decision, the report said, and there could be an internal candidate, too.
Klingensmith, 60, left Time Inc. in 2008 as chief financial officer, after a long career with the company. A Minnesota native, he joined the Star Tribune in 2010 shortly after it exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Klingensmith and Star Tribune spokesman Steve Yaeger declined to comment on the report, as did Star Tribune chairman Mike Sweeney.
Klingensmith’s name appeared in a May story in the New York Post about potential candidates for the Time Inc. spot. That story quoted an unnamed source as saying: “He has the financial chops and the consumer chops, but I don’t know how locked in he is at the Star Tribune. I know he’s very happy there.”
Another unnamed source was quoted as saying “they’d have to dynamite him out of Minneapolis.”
A source close to the situation told the Star Tribune on Tuesday that Klingensmith is not the only candidate and that several are still in play.
Time Inc.’s current CEO, Laura Lang, took the job in early 2012. But in March, when Time Warner announced it would carve off Time Inc. into a stand-alone public company, Lang announced she would not be staying on. The spinoff will help Time Warner focus on its television networks, film and TV production businesses, executives said.
Time Inc., with some $3 billion in revenue, is largely a print-based company and, like other print media, has been stressed by declining print advertising revenue. It remains a magazine powerhouse, publishing nearly 100 magazines worldwide, including People and Sports Illustrated. It also claims more than 45 branded websites.
Klingensmith, a native of Fridley, had a lengthy career at Time Inc. that included leading Sports Illustrated and co-founding Entertainment Weekly.
In his time at the Star Tribune, Editor & Publisher named him “publisher of the year” in 2011, noting the newspaper’s circulation gains and new digital products such as an iPad app. Klingensmith introduced paid subscriptions for digital content and expanded the menu of services offered to advertisers.