News Corp. clinches Dow: Mur­doch wins trust’s sup­port

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Kara Row­land

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.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Ti­tan Tri­umphant: News Corp. CEO Ru­pert Mur­doch will own the Wall Street Jour­nal and other Dow Jones & Co. prop­er­ties.

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