Hearst Corp.'s New Chief to Take Office Next June

By Mitchell, Greg | Editor & Publisher, December 10, 2001 | Go to article overview

Hearst Corp.'s New Chief to Take Office Next June


Mitchell, Greg, Editor & Publisher


Frank A. Bennack Jr., who's served in the top spot since 1979, says he plans to retire on May 31

How do you succeed the man who brought William Randolph Hearst's empire into the multimedia age? Victor F. Ganzi will walk in huge footsteps when he takes over from Frank A. Bennack Jr. as Hearst Corp. CEO and president June 1. Bennack, 68, has helmed Hearst for 23 years, the longest run at the top since that of The Chief himself.

Newspaper analyst John Morton of Morton Research in Silver Spring, Md., expects few changes from Ganzi, now Hearst's chief operating officer, because Bennack established such a strong corporate culture and put Hearst "on a sound and profitable footing," with "no problem properties." The company faces a potential "deeper pit" at its San Francisco Chronicle, however, because of the plunging Bay Area economy, Morton warned.

Unlike Bennack, who had a seven-year tenure as editor and publisher of the now-defunct San Antonio Light, Ganzi has not worked in the newspaper industry. But Jack Sweeney, president and publisher of Hearst's largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, regards this as a plus in today's "multiplatform, content business." Sweeney, who has worked closely with Ganzi, calls him a real "idea guy" with a "high energy level" who not only knows the art of the deal but shows real savvy in the all-important area of "linking products."

Ganzi is hardly a newcomer to the company, and has been groomed for the succession for several years. He did company work as a lawyer starting in 1970, and since 1990 he has served successively as general counsel, chief financial and legal officer, and executive vice president and chief operating officer, as well as a director. Ganzi, 54, is a native New Yorker, and for 75 years his family has had 50% ownership in the company that owns Palm Restaurants throughout the United States. He also serves on the boards of ESPN and the PGA Tour. …

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