Entrepreneur Alliance Meets with Dow Jones

12 July 2007

NEW YORK: Two unlikely allies have come forward as potential rivals to Rupert Murdoch's putative $5 billion (€3.6bn; £2.4bn) takeover of financial and business publisher Dow Jones.

Former US supermarket entrepreneur and billionaire Ron Burkle and MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan have been separately mentioned as potential bidders during the ongoing negotiations between News Corporation and the owners of the Wall Street Journal.

The pair are now reported to have jointly met with the Dow Jones board to outline proposals for the company's future.

Burkle is acting as advisor, while Greenspan - who sold his social networking site to NewsCorp - says he has been talking to satellite television firm EchoStar Communications and Intel as possible investors.

He proposes the purchase of a portion of Dow Jones stock at the same level as Murdoch, partially through a stock buyback, and then an investment of $250 million to expand the company's web video capabilities.

But the Bancroft dynasty which controls Dow Jones is said to be skeptical that Greenspan and Burkle offer a viable alternative to Murdoch, despite their doubts over the media mogul's commitment to the editorial integrity of the WSJ.

Former Dow ceo Peter Kann hopes the family decides not to sell to anyone, but concludes: "The search for any buyer but Murdoch makes little sense to me . . . at least he loves newspapers, presumably would invest in the WSJ and Dow Jones, and would seem to have little incentive to tarnish a trophy he has coveted for so long."

The independent directors and company advisers are hoping to progress talks with NewsCorp as far as an agreement in principle late this week.

However, a final deal is not guaranteed, as even at this stage the Bancroft family could still vote against it.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff