Time Inc., the magazine publisher that will be spun off as a separate company by the end of June, asked Howard Stringer to become a board member, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Stringer, who retired as chief executive officer of Sony Corp. in 2012, is still deciding whether to accept the post, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential.
Teri Everett, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., said the company doesn’t comment on speculation. Stringer, 72, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Joe Ripp, who will be CEO of the publicly traded company, is working to assemble Time Inc.’s executive ranks and organize its capital structure ahead of the split from Time Warner Inc. Ripp has reached out to a number of executives to sit on the company’s board, the people said, as the largest U.S. magazine publisher confronts industrywide advertising declines.
Time Inc.’s quarterly sales have fallen in 22 of the last 24 periods and revenue dropped 2.4 percent to $3.35 billion last year. The publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated will start with $1.4 billion in debt, a little more than $100 million in cash and a junk-level credit rating.
Stringer would bring a well-recognized name to the new company with four decades of experience in the media industry. He started his career as a journalist at CBS News in the 1970s before eventually becoming president of the network in 1988.
One of Stringer’s biggest accomplishments at the network was convincing David Letterman to host the late night show, then an untested timeslot for CBS Corp. Last week, Letterman announced that he will retire next year, ending a 33-year run on TV, the longest ever for a late-night talk show host.
In 2005, Stringer was named head of Sony, its first foreign CEO, after more than half a decade managing the company’s U.S. operations where he expanded the film and TV business. Stringer already sits on the boards of TalkTalk Telecom Group Plc, a London-based telecommunications company, and Teach For America, the nonprofit group that places college graduates in teaching positions at low-performing schools.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is spinning off the magazine unit to focus the company’s growth strategy on its cable networks, which account for more than 70 percent of operating income. He split off AOL Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. after becoming CEO in 2008, and he announced plans to do the same with Time Inc. after talks to merge the unit with Ladies’ Home Journal publisher Meredith Corp. broke down last year.