NEW YORK: Australian Robert Thomson, currently editor of News Corporation's UK daily The Times, has been ordained by Rupert Murdoch as publisher-designate of the Wall Street Journal, reports online newspaper today.

Although no official announcement has been made, "Rupert is being quite open about it," a senior US media executive told MediaGuardian. "If you ring him and ask him out to lunch he will tell you."

According to the masked man, the chieftain of Clan Murdoch is "90% certain" that Thomson will agree to the move, which is seen as a beachhead for an "Aussie invasion" of Dow Jones.

"It will probably happen in the first three months next year, but it could be the first six months," hedged the source.

Thomson, who ran the Financial Times office in the US from 1998-2002 (in the process upping its circulation from 32,000 to over 123,000) is reportedly zip-lipped about the report, reminding enquirers that NewsCorp doesn't yet own Dow Jones.

He is right to be cautious. NewsCorp's ingestion of its latest meal is now well behind schedule, with completion originally planned for October.

December is now the target date, assuming that the deal receives regulatory approval - by no means certain in the light of a possible FCC investigation and widespread opposition from politicians and public interest activists.

Thomson (46), has been editor of The Times for the past five years.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff