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Wan to Succeed Lynton at Penguin Group
Jim Milliot -- 1/10/00
Grann promoted to CEO of Penguin Putnam; other CEOs named for Penguin UK, Penguin Australia

David Wan, chief financial officer of the Penguin group, has been named president of the company following the resignation of Penguin chairman and CEO Michael Lynton. Lynton, who will become president of AOL International, had been head of Penguin since 1996, when he succeeded Peter Mayer, who retired to run Overlook Press.

Wan will now report directly to Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Penguin parent company Pearson. In addition to Wan's appointment, Scardino announced that Phyllis Grann of Penguin Putnam, Anthony Forbes Watson of Penguin UK and Peter Field of Penguin Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India have been appointed to CEO of their respective operating companies. They will report to Wan. A spokesperson for Penguin said no other major personnel changes are expected.

In a memo to employees, Scardino noted, "It looks as if 1999 will turn out to have been a stellar year in every way. Sales and profits were excellent, best-sellers and literary awards were more numerous, author signings more promising than ever." Wan told PW, "A key priority will be to sustain our level of success going forward." Wan added that he expects the new executive team of Grann, Watson and Field to make a cohesive group that will help leverage the strengths of their individual units for the benefit of the entire Penguin organization. As an example, Grann noted that the new structure would likely result in Penguin acquiring worldwide English rights to more titles.

Grann has always had a strong hand in running Penguin Putnam, and she d s not anticipate that her role in overseeing the company will change in any significant way. Grann told PW, "I've already been working with David for quite a while."

The new executive structure is not expected to change Penguin's philosophy in acquiring new titles. "Pearson has given us strong support in our ability to buy books, and I expect that to continue. We are not capital-constrained in any way," Wan said. Wan will devote a significant amount of his time to ensuring that Penguin keeps pace with the ongoing changes in the consumer book industry. "With so many changes occurring, no one can be sure what the end result will be. We will try different approaches to doing business. Some may go away, but others will remain. As publishers, our job is to identify valuable and entertaining content and then deliver it to our customers in whatever format they choose," Wan explained.

Prior to joining Penguin in 1998, Wan held a number of executive spots at Simon & Schuster; among his former positions were president of S&S's U.S. school-publishing business and executive v-p for strategic planning and corporate development.
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