Closing bell rings for Murdoch

News Corp.'s $5 bil deal for Dow Jones all but completed

Rupert Murdoch landed his long-sought-after deal for the Wall Street Journal this past week as his News Corp. reached a definitive agreement to acquire Journal parent Dow Jones & Co. for $60 per share, or about $5 billion (HR 8/1). The clinch came three months after the company first made its takeover bid public.

The News Corp. board ap-proved the acquisition in a meeting the afternoon of July 31 and the Dow Jones board signed off on it that evening, a source said.

In the final hours before the meetings, Murdoch clinched support from additional members of the Bancroft family that controls 64.2% of the voting power in Dow Jones. Overall, clan members controlling 37.4% of the company's voting power — more than half the Bancroft stake — agreed to the deal, with the rest set to oppose it in a final vote of all shareholders this fall.

Only the Ottaway family, which controls a voting stake of about 7% in Dow Jones, also has come out in opposition to the deal.

Observers said the deal should give News Corp. a comfortable base of support for the shareholder vote, given that investors who don't have family ownership interests to protect will enjoy the big price premium. One observer said the vote will more or less be a technicality. After all, shareholders are getting a 67% price premium over where the stock traded before the Murdoch offer.

The deal isn't expected to face any real regulatory hurdles.

Speaking of the deal Wednesday morning, News Corp. chairman and CEO Murdoch said that his conglomerate will look to strengthen key Dow Jones & Co. assets around the world once it completes the hard-won acquisition this year.

"In combination with News Corp.'s assets, the Wall Street Journal and the other Dow Jones operations will be even more formidable competitors as we profitably extend their invaluable information across our print, broadcast and digital platforms around the world," he said in a statement.
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