News Corp. clinches Dow: Murdoch wins trust’s support
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch will become the new owner of the Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper reported on its Web site July 31 that “A century of Bancroft-family ownership at Dow Jones & Co. is over.”
Mr. Murdoch had won sufficient support for a $5 billion deal to take over parent Dow Jones & Co. after a key Bancroft family trust had decided to support his bid. The family controls 64 percent of the company through a special class of stock.
The Australian-born billionaire has thus won one of the great trophies of U.S. journalism and a newspaper that is considered required daily reading among the business elite.
His News Corp., a global media colossus, will pay $60 a share for Dow Jones, which also owns a newswire, the financial weekly Barron’s and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, among other properties. Shares of Dow Jones had closed at $36.33 before Mr. Murdoch’s unsolicited bid was made public in early May.
The stock jumped 11 percent on July 31, closing at $57.38 on the New York Stock Exchange. News Corp. closed down less than 1 percent to $22.66.
The past three months have been spent in negotiations among family members, the Dow Jones board of directors and Mr. Murdoch and his board. The deal was being held up by the Bancroft family, who control 64 percent of Dow Jones’ voting shares through a special class of stock and initially opposed the takeover.
Like others who opposed the deal, the Bancroft family’s hesitation centered on what some family members saw as a threat to the paper’s integrity. Mr. Murdoch, who owns Fox News Channel and the New York Post in addition to dozens of other media properties, has been accused of sensationalism and editorial interference.
“We were heartened that several prominent Bancroft family members remain opposed to the sale on the grounds that it will damage the quality and independence of the Wall Street Journal and all Dow Jones publications,” said Steve Yount, president of the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, a union representing more than 2,000 Dow Jones employees.
“We hope their courage, and their commitment to news gathering independence, will impress upon Dow Jones’ new owners that the success of our products has always been based on a foundation of integrity and trust.”
News Corp. has agreed to create a committee that would have to sign off on any decision to hire or fire top editors at the paper.
Mr. Murdoch’s addition of the Wall Street Journal to his media empire coincides with the October debut of the Fox Business Network, a cable channel that will challenge CNBC business news channel.
However, CNBC currently has a partnership with Dow Jones that runs through 2012. Asked in May what would happen to the partnership if he acquired the company, Mr. Murdoch told Fox News host Neil Cavuto, “There’s plenty of room for us to work together.”
Dow Jones was founded in 1882 and published the first Wall Street Journal seven years later.
News Corp. owns the Fox broadcast network; Fox News Channel; the Twentieth Century Fox movie and TV studio; MySpace; newspapers in Australia and Britain; and several satellite TV broadcasters.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.
Titan Triumphant: News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will own the Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones & Co. properties.