The editor in chief of American gay magazine Out has been promoted to editorial director for the parent company PlanetOut.

In an email to company employees yesterday, PlanetOut CEO Karen Magee announced the changes.

Aaron Hicklin, who was born in Wiltshire, began his career on the Edinburgh-based Scotland on Sunday and also contributed to The List and The Independent.

He worked on other US titles before becoming editor of Out in April 2006.

“At the same time that Aaron assumes responsibility for all of the online and magazine content created across our company, he plans to continue in his role as the editor in chief of Out,” wrote Ms Magee.

“In this newly created position, Aaron will work closely with the editors in chief of each of our magazines, and our digital editorial team, to ensure that we are maximising our editorial resources and talent across all of our properties.

“He will play an integral role in the development of the digital media aspects of GAY.COM 2.0 and will serve as the creative visionary behind the re-launch of PlanetOut.com.”

PlanetOut, one of the largest gay media companies in the world, owns The Advocate, Gay.com, PlanetOut.com, Advocate.com, Out.com, OutTraveler.com and HIVPlusMag.com, as well as localised versions of the Gay.com site in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

A fortnight ago shares in the NASDAQ-listed company fell to their lowest since October’s reverse stock split and spokesman confirmed they are looking for potential buyers.

Companies split their stock when they believe the price is too low to attract investors.

In order to retain a listing on the NASDAQ, PlanetOut reduced their stock by 10 to 1, meaning that 1,000 shares became 100.

This increased the share price and reduced the number of shares – without that manoeuvre they would be trading at below $1 a share.

It has been a rocky year for the company. It is now trading at 13% of its value in January 2007.

In May high operating costs and declining sales resulted in a considerable first-quarter loss and a resulting slide in share price.

In July a company that invests the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates purchased a major stake in PlanetOut.

Cascade Investments LLC joined with a number of other private equity vehicles including Special Situations Funds, SF Capital Partners, PAR Investment Partners LP and Allen Company LLC to fund a rescue buyout of PlanetOut stock.

That same month the company closed its London and Buenos Aires offices as part of a streamlining of business operations designed to reduce costs. 273 staff were made redundant.

Chief executive Karen Magee told Dow Jones that it would take at least 12 to 24 months to turn PlanetOut around and that the company may sell its adult businesses.

Her strategy was to create a greater level of integration between the company’s online and print businesses and put advertising revenue at the core of its business model.

The company sold its travel business RSVP Vacations to Atlantis Events in November.

SpecPub is also expected to be sold – it publishes hard core gay titles such as Freshmen magazine.

In the US, PlanetOut faces competition from MTV owner Viacom who run the Logo gay television network, itself owning 365Gay.com, AfterEllen.com and AfterElton.com.

Allen Company is assisting PlanetOut in finding a buyer.