Murdoch Makes a Move on Dow Jones

Unsolicited offer proposes to put The Wall Street Journal under one media roof with the New York Post and the Fox News Channel.
Alan RappeportMay 1, 2007

News Corp. has made an unsolicited bid for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, according to a statement released Tuesday by Dow Jones.

Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate offered $5 billion, or $60 per share. The news, first reported on CNBC, sent shares soaring from a Monday close of $36.33 to more than $55. Trading in the stock was temporarily halted, according to wire reports.

The terms of the offer, according to the Dow Jones statement, would allow News Corp. to acquire the outstanding shares of Dow Jones common stock and Class B common stock in cash or a combination of cash and News Corp. securities. The statement added that the company’s board and the Bancroft family, Dow Jones’s majority shareholder, are “evaluating the offer.” As of Wednesday morning, the offer had been rebuffed, according to published accounts.

News Corp. assets currently include the New York Post, the Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, and several newspapers in Britain and Australia. The Wall Street Journal would be widely considered the jewel in Murdoch’s media crown; it would also fit nicely with future content needs at News Corp., which is planning to launch a business news channel. Dow Jones currently partners with CNBC under a contract that expires in 2012.

Publishing companies have been ripe takeover targets lately, given the decline in newspaper circulation — 2.1 percent industrywide over the past six months, reported the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Even so, during that period the Journal posted an increase of 0.61 percent.