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PASSING THE HEARST BATON: Frank Bennack is finally ceding the reins at Hearst Corp. — a little. The media conglomerate late Wednesday said that Steve Swartz, currently president and chief operating officer, would succeed Bennack as chief executive officer on June 1. Bennack isn’t retiring, however: given his close ties to the Hearst family and his long tenure as head of the company, he will remain executive vice chairman and chairman of the executive committee.
Swartz, who turned 51 last week, had been seen as Bennack’s likely successor since he was appointed president last December and chief operating officer in 2011. Prior to that, he ran the group’s newspaper division. He is somewhat of a Hearst lifer, having spent 20 years at the company, including as founding editor of SmartMoney magazine, the joint venture with Dow Jones, in 1991.
“Steve has exactly the kind of breadth that a company like ours needs: expertise in both editorial and business roles,” Bennack said. “He not only brings great energy and vision to the job, he has established himself as a visible and respected executive in media, advertising and the civic communities that are important to Hearst.”
The change hasn’t come quickly: Swartz is only the seventh ceo in Hearst’s 126-year history. Bennack, 80, was first named Hearst’s ceo in 1979 and grew the company’s revenues by 12 times both through organic growth, acquisitions and launches — including The History Channel, A&E and Lifetime.