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After 13 years at the helm of the irresistably British Economist, editor Bill Emmott is throwing in his conservative towel. His career at the publication started 26 years ago in Brussels; during his editorship, the magazine's circulation has more than doubled, surpassing the million-reader mark. Emmott's now decided to quit while he's ahead, noting the magazine is "in top form and in great hands, which makes a good moment to go." Quite the sentimental one, isn't he?

A successor has yet to be named, but the full press release after the jump, complete with Emmott's ever-so-exciting plans for a book and "other adventures." We bet he means cliff-diving.

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Bill Emmott, editor of The Economist, steps down after 13 years in the chair

Bill Emmott, editor of The Economist, announced yesterday that he plans to step down after 13 years in his post, and a total of 26 years at The Economist. During his 13 years as editor, The Economist has seen a surge in the magazine's circulation and built an impressive U.S. subscriber base.

"I have had a fantastic time, doing what I think is the best job in journalism, editing the best current affairs publication in the world, and simply feel that it is time for a change. Editorially and commercially, The Economist is in top form and in great hands, which makes it a good moment to go," said Emmott.

He told staff that he planned to return to writing books, in particular a work he already has under way about the growing rivalry between China and Japan, while also looking for other new adventures.

"In due course I may take up other posts but I can't imagine wanting to be editor of any other publication," Emmott continued. "The Economist is the best there is, and being editor of it has, for me, been the best possible job."

Sir Robert Wilson, chairman of The Economist Group said, "Bill is stepping down after nearly 13 years as a highly successful editor of The Economist. During this period, circulation of the newspaper more than doubled to well over one million copies a week. He achieved this while setting ever-higher standards of analysis and commentary for the paper. He will surely be remembered as one of the great editors of The Economist."

North American July-December 2005 circulation audit figures will show The Economist at 569,336, up 12.8% from the same period last year and up 152% from the same period in 1992, when Emmott was appointed editor. The worldwide ABC circulation of The Economist in July-December 1992 was 510,178. In the July-December 2005 audit period the worldwide figure is 1,057,720.

Bill Emmott was appointed in March 1993 to become the 15th editor since The Economist was founded in 1843, and is the longest serving since Geoffrey Crowther (1938-56). He joined The Economist in 1980 as a junior Brussels correspondent, following which he has been economics correspondent, Tokyo correspondent (1983-86), finance editor (1986-89) and business affairs editor (1989-93). He is the author or co-author of six books, four of them about Japan. He is 49.

A new editor will be chosen by The Economist Group board of directors, subject to approval by the company's four independent trustees. There is a three-stage process: first interviews by a board sub-committee; second interviews of the shortlist by the full board of directors; and lastly approval by the trustees.