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American Health, Reader’s Digest Deal Reported

September 20, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Owners of American Health magazine said Wednesday they were talking to an unidentified publishing company about selling the 8-year-old magazine, and a media industry newsletter reported it was Reader’s Digest Association Inc.

Owen Lipstein, head of American Health Partners, said the partnership was ″having discussions″ about selling the magazine, but refused to identify the prospective buyer and said he would neither confirm nor deny the report in Media Industry Newsletter.

The weekly newsletter reported that sources it did not identify were saying an agreement in principle had been signed for the deal.

A spokesman for Reader’s Digest Association, the privately-held publisher of Reader’s Digest and three special-interest magazines, said the company could not comment on the report.

″We have not made any announcement, and we can’t discuss any subject that has not been announced,″ said spokesman Bruce S. Trachtenberg from company headquarters in Pleasantville, N.Y.

As a private company, he said Reader’s Digest usually doesn’t comment on its business plans. He noted the company is currently operating under added regulatory constraints because it is preparing to file registration material that will enable some of its shareholders to offer non-voting stock to the public for the first time. The filing is expected by early 1990.

American Health magazine is published 10 times a year and has seen both circulation and advertising pages rise this year.

″It’s doing very well,″ said Lipstein, a founder of the magazine and the largest stockholder in the partnership that owns it.

He said American Health’s ad pages have risen 12.4 percent this year from a year ago and circulation is up 10 percent to an all-time high of 1.048 million.

Lipstein is also involved in separate partnerships that own Mother Earth News, Psychology Today and Smart magazines, but said these were not for sale.

Reader’s Digest Association has been publishing Reader’s Digest for nearly 68 years and in the past three years has acquired three magazines: Travel- Holiday, The Family Handyman and New Choices for The Best Years, which had formerly been called 50-Plus.

Reader’s Digest also publishes general and condensed books and produces and markets by direct mail a variety of home entertainment products including compact discs, tapes, records and home videos.

In an announcement Wednesday, the company said it was creating three new business groups and named presidents for each of them.

George V. Grune, chairman and chief executive, said the realignment was part of a ″continuing growth strategy ... designed to maximize our position as a leader in the global publishing and direct mail industries.″

Two of the executives come from within the organization. M. John Bohane, who has been with the company since 1971, becomes president of the new direct marketing group, and Kenneth A. Gordon, a 29-year veteran, was picked to head the new international group.

Bohane, 53, had been vice president and director of U.S. marketing for Reader’s Digest Association and in the new post will be responsible for domestic direct mail activities for book, music and home video products and financial services.

Gordon, 52, had been vice president and director - international and will oversee Reader’s Digest activities outside the United States.

Thomas A. Kenney, 42, who has more than 15 years in the magazine field for companies including Time Inc. and CBS Inc., becomes president of the new magazine publishing group with responsibility for all four magazines and the QSP subsidiary, which helps schools and youth organizations with fundraising.

Since 1986, Kenney has headed his own firm that has served as an adviser on media deals to the investment banking firm First Boston Corp.

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