Murdoch's Latest Object of Desire: The Wall Street Journal

02 May 2007

NEW YORK: In a revelation that triggered Richter-scale tremors across America's financial services and newspaper publishing establishments, Dow Jones on Tuesday rejected News Corporation's unsolicited $5 billion (€3.68bn; £2.50bn) bid for the family controlled business.

Dow Jones owns the Wall Street Journal among other key properties such as the eponymous Index and internet business information sites like MarketWatch and Factiva.

Murdoch clearly means business, his offer representing a 65% premium on DJ's current share price. Nonetheless, the firm's controlling Bancroft family remained resolute - for now.

Michael Elefante, a lawyer representing the Bancroft family, and who also sits on the DJ board, stated yesterday: "Members of the family and the trustees of trust for their benefit have advised him [Murdoch] that they will vote shares constituting slightly more than 50% of the outstanding voting power of Dow Jones against the proposal."

Rupert Murdoch is rarely fazed by such rebuffs and is unlikely to retire from this particular fray, having made no secret of his lust to possess the WSJ.

In an interview with NewsCorp's Fox News Channel, Murdoch recently eulogized: "This is the greatest newspaper in America - one of the greatest in the world. needs to be part of a bigger organisation to be taken further."

He sees the paper as a means to confer both gravitas and journalistic expertise on his online ambitions and a new business cable TV channel due to be launched later this year.

On the face of it, however, NewsCorp investors are less enthused at the bid than their leader. The media giant's shares fell 3.9% in early trading in Australia today (Wednesday).

And, according to other reports, there is even less enthusiasm for a Murdoch takeover among WSJ editorial staff and other employees.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff