Zannino Named Dow Jones CEO, As ‘WSJ’ Publisher Exits

By: E&P Staff

Dow Jones & Co. Tuesday named COO and Executive Vice President Richard F. Zannino as its new CEO effective Feb. 1.

Zannino, 47, succeeds Peter R. Kann, who will continue as chairman until the company’s annual meeting in 2007, the year he reaches Dow Jones’ mandatory retirement age of 65.

Dow Jones also announced the retirement of Wall Street Journal Publisher Karen Elliott House, who is married to Kann. In a statement, Dow Jones said House, 58, “will be retiring from the company by mutual agreement after a distinguished 32-year career.” She will stay on to work with Zannino for “a couple of transition months,” the company said.

Kann had long urged that House succeed him, “but the company’s board rejected that notion,” The New York Times reports this afternoon, “after Mr. Zannino made her departure a condition of his acceptance of the top job, company officials said.”

The Times also observed: “Mr. Kann’s tenure, which began in 1991, has been uninspiring to Wall Street but became particularly controversial when he appointed his wife publisher of The Journal in 2002. The Journal, the company’s flagship newspaper, has been struggling financially since the dot-com bubble burst because it was more dependent than most papers on technology and financial advertising.”

But Zannino said in a statement today: “Karen House has done an outstanding job in many news and business roles over her long and distinguished career, from Pulitzer Prize winning reporter to publisher of The Wall Street Journal. Her steadfast leadership during these past few years of significant change in the publishing business, including the very successful launch of the Journal’s Weekend Edition, is greatly appreciated. We wish her all the best.”

Zannino joined Dow Jones in 2001 as its chief financial officer, and currently oversees the day-to-day operations as chief operations officer, reporting to Kann. Before joining Dow Jones, he held senior finance, strategy and operating positions at Liz Claiborne, General Signal Corporation, Saks Holdings, and Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. He becomes the first non-journalist in recent memory to lead the 124-year-old media company.

“Although I’m not a journalist, I strongly believe that, for Dow Jones, journalistic excellence and business performance are mutually reinforcing — and I am deeply committed to both,” Zannino said in a statement.

Dow Jones also announced that because of “improved results” at the Journal and in its electronic publishing businesses, it now expects to exceed prior fourth quarter 2005 earnings guidance when it announces earnings on January 26.

“The company now expects to report fourth quarter earnings before special items (after about 6 cents per share of dilution from Weekend Edition) to be around 40 cents per share, as compared to prior guidance in the low to mid 30 cents per share range,” the company said. “Based on currently anticipated special items in the fourth quarter of 2005, the company expects reported earnings per share to be in the high 40 cents per share range, compared with 43 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2004.”

In its previous guidance to analysts, Dow Jones’ fourth-quarter estimates had been lower than the consensus estimate of analysts.

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