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News Corp. Takeover of Dow Jones Appears More Likely

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is poised to take control of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, after a key trust decided to accept his offer. A business journalist discusses the deal and its impact on media.

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    Three-plus months after his initial bid, today Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation apparently won the prize he's long coveted: the world's marquee financial news organization, Dow Jones, and its crown jewel, the Wall Street Journal.

    His $5 billion takeover offer, or $60 a share, was reportedly accepted by enough members of the Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for over a century, to guarantee the company's sale. Murdoch's offer was a 67 percent premium over Dow Jones' pre-offer market value.

    The Wall Street Journal has the second-largest newspaper circulation in the U.S. and prints editions in Europe and Asia. It also has a successful Internet presence and is one of the few newspaper sites that charges users for its content.

    In addition to the Journal, Dow Jones also owns Barron's, a financial weekly; the Dow Jones Newswire; and the MarketWatch Web site. The company would become part of Murdoch's worldwide media empire, valued at some $70 billion. It includes the FOX television network, FOX News Channel, 20th Century FOX film studios, and the New York Post in the U.S., and newspapers and television networks abroad. Last year, News Corp. also bought the popular social networking Web site MySpace.

    Joining me now to discuss the details of the deal is Andrew Leckey, director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University. He's also a longtime syndicated investment columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

    And, Andrew, when News Corp. first made this offer just over three months ago, it wasn't met with universal applause. What did Rupert Murdoch and his associates do in the intervening 12 or 13 weeks to win over enough buyers to apparently make a deal?

  • ANDREW LECKEY, Arizona State University:

    Mr. Murdoch did something very important. He played it cool. He sat back and let the family members and the shareholders think about all that money. In addition, there was no white knight in the wings, so he stuck with his very generous offer.

    But in the meantime, he also said the right things. Now, there's been some discussion about how he may have handled other properties, but he said he would not tamper with the editorial content. And generally all the things he said indicated at least that he was not going to shock anyone.

    Now, we all know who owns the company we work for, and we all know the people look closely at a product, but at least he did say the right things.

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