Orbis settles in following year-long executive mess

CHICAGO: Over a year after its acquisition by Healthway Communications, things have finally begun to settle down at the Orbis Broadcast Group.

CHICAGO: Over a year after its acquisition by Healthway Communications, things have finally begun to settle down at the Orbis Broadcast Group.

CHICAGO: Over a year after its acquisition by Healthway

Communications, things have finally begun to settle down at the Orbis

Broadcast Group.



The mid-1998 purchase of Orbis by Healthway - since re-named

HealthAnswers - was the first in a string of 11 deals inked by the

Austin-based company.



The deal sparked an overhaul of senior management at Orbis, including

the departure of three of the company’s founders.



David Manilow was the first to go, leaving not long after the sale. In

October, CEO and partner Jeff Bohnson left for Singapore, where he

assumed the newly created post of president and COO of HealthAnswers

International (a wholly owned subsidiary operating in the Asia Pacific

arena). The third remaining partner, Tim Barr, stayed on until only

recently.



While Barr, one of the chief architects behind last year’s Orbis/PR

Newswire partnership, was rumored to have been forced out, company

sources said the conflict was exaggerated. Two high-ranking sales execs,

Tierney Kennedy and Lou Cafiero, also left following the

acquisition.



’I don’t know if I’d call it a housecleaning,’ said newly appointed

president Cynthia Patrasso. ’It was more of a restructuring, placing

everybody where their talents will be put to the best use.’ Patrasso, in

her pre-Orbis life as a VP and executive producer at Intersport, was

part of the team that broke the story of the infamous assault on Olympic

skater Nancy Kerrigan.



HealthAnswers has reorganized its business into five lines, with Orbis

folded into the New Media Division under CEO Holly Atkinson, also hired

earlier this month. According to Patrasso, other major staffing duties

still on Orbis’ agenda include filling the vacant director of sales post

as well as adding additional sales-related positions.



Industry sources have questioned the effects of the restructuring on

Orbis’ efforts to expand beyond its healthcare niche under the PR

Newswire agreement.



’There is no question that our core business is and will continue to be

health,’ Patrasso said. ’But as long as we can provide products and

services to customers outside the health arena, we will continue to do

so.’



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