Chron Parent Company May Expand Empire. Just Not Print Empire.

With all the bloodletting at the San Francisco Chronicle this year, local readers could be forgiven the impression that all is not hunky-dory in the financial universe of Hearst Corp., which owns the Chron. But despite the newspaper's steady stream of layoffs, there are now indications that Hearst has a whole lotta money saved up.

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Yet the company probably doesn't intend to spend its nest egg on its withering newspaper properties.

Citing unnamed sources, New York Post columnist Keith Kelly reports that Hearst is sitting on a $1 billion war chest, which it probably plans to invest in "digital and non-traditional media." Kelly notes that while the Chronicle and other Hearst papers "have had near-death experiences over the past year," the company's magazines remain relatively stable. Hearst continues to bring in $7 billion of revenue annually and is still profitable as a whole, according to Kelly.

What does this mean for San Francisco's newspaper of record and its readers? The Chronicle Web site, sfgate.com, is one of the most trafficked of its kind, making it one potential beneficiary of Hearst dollars flowing into tech projects. Then again, Hearst mucky-mucks -- led by former investment banker Mitchell Scherzer, who was this week introduced as the corporation's new chief financial officer -- may see cash injections to its daily papers as throwing good money after bad.

We'll go out on a limb here and predict that Hearst's $1 billion isn't destined to buy a lot of fancy new presses.

Photo   |   AMagill

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