New York, NY – John French announced Thursday he was stepping down as chief executive officer of Penton Media, Inc., but would remain on the publishing company’s board of directors.
French, who became CEO in 2006, said in a memo to Penton staff that he would remain on the job until the board found a replacement and that he would assist with the search. Last month, French announced in another memo that the company was eliminating 42 jobs and extending a hiring and salary freeze. He added, however, that Penton’s Exhibitions Group was performing well and had launched three new trade shows.
French said his decision came after consultations with the board about the company’s evolution and future leadership needs. “We believe that my leaving is truly the next step in a significant transformation that is already well under way across the organization,” he wrote in his memo. “New leadership from the CEO position will help bring new thoughts and new ideas to Penton.”
French added that in the meantime, it would be “business as usual” at Penton and ticked off a list of tasks to be accomplished in the coming months, including the Summer forecast, operating reviews, strategic planning for each product group and developing a budget for 2009.
Penton stages 96 conferences and trade shows in several different sectors, including The Special Event, which is targeted at exposition and event specialists. The company’s entire events group was placed under the control of Fred Linder, who had been in charge of Penton’s New Hope Natural Media, late last year. Linder was given the newly created title of senior vice president, events, trade shows and exhibitions group.
Founded in 1886, Penton is based in New York City and is owned by an investment group made up of MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II and sponsored by Wasserstein & Co., LP. French said he would be working with Wasserstein and MidOcean on unspecified new media opportunities.