Jon Newcomb, who helped engineer the sale of Simon & Schuster's professional and educational publishing divisions to Pearson in 1998, has resigned as chairman and CEO of the publisher and has taken a position with the private equity firm of Leeds Weld & Co. Jack Romanos, S&S president and chief operating officer, has been named CEO.
S&S parent company Viacom also announced that S&S will be integrated into the Viacom Entertainment Group. The group, headed by Jonathan Dolgen, consists of the Paramount film and television studio, the Famous Players Canadian exhibition chain, Famous Music Publishing and the theme park operations. Romanos will report to Dolgen, who is based in Los Angeles. S&S's offices will remain in New York City.
Romanos told PW he does not expect the integration into the entertainment group to result in any major changes in the day-to-day operations of S&S. Romanos noted that when he first joined S&S, the company was part of the studio group and only became an independent operation after it acquired educational and professional publishing companies. With the divestiture of those units, the entertainment group "is the logical place for us to go," Romanos said. S&S and the studio are both in the content-creation field, are mature businesses and share similar growth charactertics, Romanos observed.
The integration was an organizational shift and was not done with an eye toward cutting costs, Romanos said. He also acknowledged that while the move "may create some new opportunities for us and the studio" he wasn't expecting to see a lot of new synergy efforts, largely because S&S already works so closely with Paramount.
Romanos said the integration "is a clear statement that Viacom not only intends to keep us, but to grow us." Ever since Viacom divested the educational and professional properties, there has been constant speculation that Viacom would sell the rest of the company. In a prepared statement, Viacom president Mel Karmazin said the move "underscores our long-term commitment to consumer publishing."
Newcomb's departure from S&S was not unexpected. When the sale of the professional and educational units was completed, Newcomb went from directing a $2-billion company to a company with revenues of about $650 million. He had been rumored to be in line for several jobs over the last few years, including that of CEO of Reed Elsevier. Sources said Newcomb believed that S&S needed to acquire additional companies if it wanted to remain in consumer publishing, and that he had grown tired of the inability of the Viacom leadership to decide to move forward with acquisitions or to sell the company.