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California and the West

Freedom CEO to Step Down

October 04, 2005|E. Scott Reckard | Times Staff Writer

Alan J. Bell will step down at year-end as president and chief executive of Freedom Communications Inc., publisher of the Orange County Register, the Irvine company said Monday.

Bell will be replaced by Scott N. Flanders, a former Columbia House chairman who has been an outside director of Freedom for five years.

Bell, who spent 17 years as a Freedom executive, was named CEO in August 2002 during a period he likened to "civil war" among descendants of R.C. Hoiles, who founded Freedom in 1935. The company now includes 28 daily newspapers, 37 weeklies and eight television stations.

The disputes were resolved in October 2003, when private buyout firms Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners arranged financing to buy out dissident shareholders for nearly $1 billion in return for equal seats on the board with remaining Hoiles family members.

Bell, 73, said he proposed his departure as CEO more than a year ago. Flanders, 48, worked with Blackstone and Providence during a leveraged buyout of Columbia House, which sells music and videos to consumers through a club format. Germany's Bertelsmann bought Columbia House this year.

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