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Deseret Management hires former LA Times publisher

Published February 4, 2009 6:57 pm

Controversial executive » Mark Willes attracted widespread attention for his management style.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mark H. Willes, who had a stormy reign as publisher of the Los Angeles Times, has been named president and CEO of Deseret Management Co., which oversees the Deseret News, KSL-TV and other for-profit businesses owned by the LDS Church.

Willes, 67, will replace former CEO Rodney Brady, 76, who announced his retirement at a Deseret Management board meeting Wednesday.

Willes lives in Provo. He takes over Deseret Management on March 1.

"We approach this transition with mixed emotions," LDS Church President Thomas Monson said in a statement. "[Willes] brings a rich background of corporate world experience and is well respected in the international business community."

Willes was named a director, president and chief executive officer of The Times Mirror Co., parent company of the Times, in 1995.

He was named to the additional post of chairman of the board in 1996 and served as publisher of the Times from 1997 to 1999.

Before going to Times Mirror, Willes was at General Mills. He joined that company in 1980 as executive vice president and chief financial officer. He became president, chief operating officer and a director in 1985.

Previously, he held a number of positions at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

During his years as CEO of Times Mirror and publisher of the Times , Willes attracted widespread attention for his management tactics.

Executives came and went, business strategies changed, newspapers were sold and hundreds of employees were laid off as Willes cut costs. Along the way, he forced the newspaper industry to question its basic assumptions.

Times Mirror disappeared in 2000 when it was bought by the Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Cubs and other properties.

Other commercial properties Deseret Management oversees are Bonneville International Corp., Beneficial Financial Group, Deseret Book Co. and Zions Securities Corp.

Former President Gordon Hinckley established Deseret Management in 1996.