Condé Nast is laying out its succession plan, and said late Sunday that chief executive officer Chuck Townsend will retire next year. He will hand the reins to current president Bob Sauerberg, who will take the ceo role on January 1.

While the appointment is not surprising — Sauerberg has been front and center for some time now — the timing of the announcement comes at a pivotal time for the New York-based company, which is in the process of transforming from a traditional publisher, to one with a more 360-degree approach.

In a note to staff, Townsend said he will continue his “22-year relationship” with Condé Nast and remain chairman. S.I. Newhouse Jr. will become chairman emeritus.

“We have had the privilege of beginning the company’s critical transition from the world’s most prominent magazine publisher, to a multiplatform media company during my later years as ceo, and Bob has always been right at my side, leading the way into digital audience and revenue growth, while celebrating our remarkable accomplishments in magazine publishing, journalism and revenue generation,” Townsend offered.

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