CEO of Freedom Communications to head Playboy

Scott Flanders became chief executive officer of Freedom in January 2006.

By Mary Ann Milbourn

Scott Flanders, chief executive of Clovis News Journal’s parent company, Freedom Communications Inc., confirmed Monday he is leaving the company to head Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Flanders, 52, said he will quit his Freedom post June 30 and become CEO at Playboy July 1. A replacement at Irvine, California-based Freedom Communications was not immediately named.

“This is very much more about where I’m going rather than what I’m leaving, ” Flanders said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to run a public company built by a creative genius.”

He noted Freedom has faced enormous challenges because of declining revenues and circulation, new competition from the Internet and the recession. The company also has labored under a burdensome $700 million debt inherited from the buyout in 2004 of dissident members of the family-owned company.

“But Freedom remains profitable,” he said, noting the company has hired Houlihan Lokey, a restructuring specialist, to help restructure the debt.

Flanders became chief executive officer of Freedom in January 2006 after former CEO Alan Bell retired. Flanders had served on the Freedom board.

Before joining Freedom, he was CEO of Columbia House Co. which was sold to a unit of Bertelsmann AG in 2005.

In his new role, Flanders will be heading a storied company, known for its men’s magazine and iconic Playboy bunnies. But the company has fallen on hard times with competition from other adult entertainment.

Last month, the company reported a first-quarter net loss of $13.7 million. Playboy shares closed down 36 cents Monday to $2.97.