Alpha Media sold the bawdy lad magazine to retired UPS exec Calvin Darden over the summer. The deal was expected to be completed by last month but things apparently hit a snag.
"We're scheduled to close Friday," Guccione said by phone. "I'm the guy they're bringing in."
The Maxim news marks Guccione's return to publishing and is likely to draw interest in the brand. Guccione, the son of Penthouse founder Bob Guccione Sr., formerly ran Spin and Discover Media, exiting Discover in 2007. After kicking back in Tuscany for a while, he tried to get back into the business, attempting to buy Hachette Filipacchi Media's enthusiast titles and doing some consulting.
Guccione said Maxim first approached him a year and a half ago, and then a few weeks ago after the sale to Darden was announced. He professed to know little about Maxim's financial picture and the sale holdup, saying only, "There was a funding problem. [A backer] withdrew and had to be replaced."
The news of the deal raised eyebrows because Darden is a publishing outsider and his son, Calvin Darden Jr., a convicted stockbroker, has been involved in the sale.
"They're not in publishing; they're green, so they want someone who isn't green," Guccione said. "The Dardens are very, very smart people, and they have very big plans."
As for the job ahead rebuilding Maxim, Guccione acknowledged there are challenges facing the men's lifestyle title that has come down quite a bit from its peak at the height of the laddie mag craze.
"It has to be more modern, more elegant, more sophisticated," he said. "It has to become vibrant again."
He also echoed the owner's previously stated plans to expand's Maxim TV, online and licensing footprint.
Guccione wouldn't say if he was taking a stake in the brand or on the future of Maxim president Ben Madden after the sale closes.
Alpha backer Cerberus declined to comment. The Dardens couldn't be reached.