Dow Jones Shareholders OK $5B Murdoch Bid

News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch smiles as he speaks at a press conference in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2006. He said that a joint venture Japan's Softbank Corp. to bring the popular Internet social networking site MySpace to Japan was possible.
AP
Shareholders of Dow Jones & Co. gave final approval Thursday to a $5 billion bid from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to acquire the media company, the final step needed before one of the world's most influential newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, changes hands.

The controlling shareholders of Dow Jones, the far-flung Bancroft family, had initially rebuffed Murdoch's approach this spring, but eventually enough of them agreed to accept his offer of $60 a share to ensure the bid would succeed.

Dow Jones held the shareholder vote in a hotel in the financial district of lower Manhattan, near its headquarters. The formal closing of the deal is expected to occur either later Thursday or Friday.

The Bancroft family was long seen as unified in opposition to selling and at first rebuffed Murdoch's extremely rich offer, but Murdoch was able to win over enough family members to assure that his bid would be approved in a shareholder vote.

The deal was approved by a total of 60.3 percent of the shareholder vote.

Murdoch's bid represented a massive premium of 65 percent over the price Dow Jones shares had been trading at before his offer became public. Newspaper shares other than Dow Jones have declined sharply this year on deepening concerns about declining revenues as advertising dollars move to the Internet.

Murdoch has given an overview of the kinds of changes he wants to bring to the newspaper, but not many specifics. He has said he wants to increase the paper's Washington coverage and online operations, and is contemplating further opening up the Journal's Web site to non-paying subscribers. He also wants to compete more directly against The New York Times for national readers and advertising dollars.

Last week Murdoch named a longtime News Corp. publishing executive Les Hinton to be CEO of Dow Jones, replacing Rich Zannino, who is leaving the company.

Also Robert Thomson, the editor of Murdoch's The Times newspaper in London, will become publisher of the Journal and Dow Jones other news outlets, Barron's and Dow Jones Newswires.