Hearst Corp., the closely held magazine publisher and broadcaster, said President Steven Swartz will succeed Frank Bennack Jr. as CEO, only the seventh in the company's 126-year history. His appointment is effective June 1.
Mr. Bennack, who has spent more than 50 years with the company, led its diversification from newspapers and magazines into TV and other businesses, most recently buying a 50% stake in NorthSouth Productions, the producer of reality shows such as "Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta" on TLC. In 2011 the company bought a stake in Mark Burnett's reality TV production business and formed a joint venture called One Three Media, which now produces "The Voice" and "Shark Tank."
The lengthy reign of Mr. Bennack, 80, had not left much room for other would-be CEOs. He first won the top job in 1979, holding the post until he stepped down in 2002. But he returned in 2008 after the resignation of his successor Victor Ganzi. Getting passed over for the top job likely encouraged Cathie Black, then chairman at Hearst Magazines, to leave in 2010 for a short-lived job running the New York City school-system.
Mr. Swartz, 51, has established himself as visible and respected executive during his two decades with the company, Mr. Bennack told staff in a memo, citing Mr. Swartz's role as the founding editor of SmartMoney and role running the newspapers division. "Steve has exactly the kind of breadth that a company like ours needs: expertise in both editorial and business roles," Mr. Bennack said.
Mr. Swartz named president in December after being appointed chief operating officer in March 2011, a title he still holds. Mr. Swartz serves on the board and also is a director of two Hearst foundations. He is also a trustee under the founder's will.
Hearst's interests include 15 daily and 36 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and Albany Times Union. The company publishes Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Elle and O, The Oprah Magazine; and operates 29 TV stations. The company has stakes in cable networks Lifetime, A&E, History and ESPN.
William R. Hearst III continues as chairman. Mr. Bennack continues as executive vice chairman.
~ Bloomberg News and Ad Age staff ~