Debt Topples

A Tycoon Jovanovich didn't have the heart to cut back

"The day you retire, you're finished," a crusty William Jovanovich often told his nail-biting subordinates. Yet last week, after 34 years at the helm of book-publishing giant Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1989 sales: $1.8 billion), the 70-year-old iconoclast finally buckled. He passed his chairmanship to HBJ board member John Herrington, a former U.S. Energy Secretary. "The burden was too great, and Bill had had enough," explains another director. "He was also getting to be in the way."

Jovanovich had already been replaced as chief executive in December by his son Peter, 41, but last week's final farewell was abrupt -- and necessary....

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