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International: Dow Jones to oppose bid by Murdoch’s News Corp.

03-May-2007
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International: Dow Jones to oppose bid by Murdoch’s News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch, arguably the most powerful media baron in the world today, happens to be an Aussie. And in typical Oz style, he hasn't shrunk away from a corporate battle on his way to building up News Corp. into a global media empire. But his surprise $ 5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, faces tough times following the company’s controlling shareholders declaring that they would block it.

It is no secret that Murdoch has for long admired the Journal, whose ownership would be a major milestone for the 76-year-old Australia-born executive. The acquisition of Dow Jones would also dovetail with News Corp.'s plans to launch a business-oriented cable news channel to rival CNBC.

In fact, in an interview on News Corp.'s Fox News Channel, Murdoch has said the Journal would benefit greatly from being part of a larger media company and had great potential for increasing both its print circulation as well as its online presence worldwide. But he has a fight on his hands. Dow Jones said late on Tuesday that the Bancroft family, who control a little over 50 per cent of the company's voting power, would oppose the deal.

The situation at Dow Jones is somewhat different from that prevailing at other major media houses. The Grahams at The Washington Post and the Sulzbergers at The New York Times control their respective publishing companies. But the Bancrofts aren't involved in the day-to-day operations of the Journal or Dow Jones.

According to analysts, the Murdoch bid could also lead to auctioning of Dow Jones. It's possible that other bidders could emerge for the company, which has long been coveted by media owners for the powerful voice the Journal has in the business world.

Murdoch's bid comes at a time of significant amount of deal activity among newspapers abroad, which are struggling to reinvent themselves with readers and advertising money increasingly moving to the Internet.

News Corp.'s main businesses are now in television and entertainment — including the Fox broadcast network and the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio. Murdoch began with newspapers and still owns many of them in England and Australia, in addition to the New York Post. News Corp. also owns the popular social networking site MySpace and satellite broadcasters in Europe and Asia.

Dow Jones’ Consumer Media Group publishes the Journal, Barron's, MarketWatch and the Far Eastern Economic Review. Its Enterprise Media Group includes Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva, Dow Jones Licensing Services, Dow Jones Indexes and Dow Jones Financial Information Services. Its Local Media Group operates community-based information franchises. Dow Jones owns 50 per cent of SmartMoney and 33 per cent of Stoxx Ltd. and provides news content to CNBC and radio stations in the US.

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