Donald L. Keough, publisher of the Los Angeles Business Journal and senior publisher of the Orange County Business Journal and the San Diego Business Journal, has resigned those posts to head a publishing venture in Australia.
Keough's departure comes just one month after CBJ Associates, a partnership headed by Kansas City real estate developer Larry Bridges, purchased the Orange County Business Journal and converted it to a format that closely resembles the CBJ-owned Los Angeles and San Diego publications.
Keough, who during his tenure with American City Business Journals Inc. played a key role in starting 20 local business weeklies around the country, was responsible for developing a strategy to exploit synergies that he believed lay in having a chain of papers covering all of Southern California.
Keough personally owns a majority stake in the San Francisco Business Times, and he will continue as chairman of that publication. But he said he had indications that American City would soon exercise its option to buy the paper.
Tom Link, associate publisher of the Los Angeles Business Journal, was named publisher of the weekly, but no one was named to the post of senior publisher for all three publications. Charles Heschmeyer will remain publisher of the Orange County Business Journal, and Ted Owen retains his positions as head of the San Diego Business Journal.
Owen said the senior publisher spot would not be filled and that each publisher would run his own operation and report directly to Bridges.
Larry Bridges said in a statement that under Keough's direction "the papers progressed much faster than we thought they would," but he declined further comment on how he would manage the chain in the future. The Los Angeles and San Diego papers were losing money when Bridges bought them in April of last year, but both are now profitable.
Link said he expected few changes in Los Angeles: "We're on such a growth trend it would be silly to change anything--our goals were 100% growth over last year's advertising sales, and we're on that type of track."
Keough will now bring his well-rehearsed editorial concept for weekly business newspapers to Brisbane, Australia, where he will become executive chairman of a new firm called Regional Business Newspapers Ltd. Backed by Lloyds Bank Plc and private investors, the company will first start a weekly business journal in Brisbane, and if successful will expand to other Australian and Pacific Rim cities.
Keough said he would have an equity stake of 25% to 30% in the company, and he cited that ownership position as a crucial attraction in taking the job. The other key player in the venture, Keough said, was Ian Muil, an Australian financial journalist who will be managing director of the firm.
"In San Francisco a couple of years ago, our group looked at the Australian market, but we couldn't get any U.S. investors interested," Keough said. "This will be funded almost entirely by Australian investors--they made me a very attractive offer."
He added that Bridges was "very understanding under the circumstances" and that CBJ would continue to prosper in his absence: "I think things will be fine. No one is indispensable."