Hefner closes book on Playboy post

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Christie Hefner is stepping down as Playboy Enterprises chairman and CEO after two decades, the adult entertainment company said in a Monday surprise.

It named media industry veteran Jerome Kern as interim chairman.

Investors cheered the news, bidding shares 22% higher Monday to $2.13. After trading higher than $32 a share less than a decade ago, the stock has been languishing in recent months near an all-time low.

Hefner will stay on as CEO until Jan. 31 and remain a member of the board until a new CEO joins the company.

"Playboy Enterprises has literally and figuratively been my life and career for more than 30 years," Hefner said, adding that last month marked her 20th anniversary as CEO. "Just as this country is embracing change in the form of new leadership, I have decided that now is the time to make changes in my own life as well."

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner lauded his daughter for having stepped up as president when the company faced financial difficulties and for working "tirelessly to expand the company's franchise."

Kern joined Playboy's board in 2002. He is a partner in Enki Strategic Advisors and president of Kern Consulting. He was chairman and CEO of On Command. (partialdiff)
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