Dow Jones Board Approves Murdoch Deal

Now Bancroft Family Has to Vote; Meeting on July 23

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NEW YORK ( -- Dow Jones last night said its board had voted to approve the company's proposed sale to News Corp. at the original bid of $60 per share. Now the Bancroft family has to make its most important decision in generations of controlling Dow Jones: whether to end its own dominance by signing off on the deal to put the company, including The Wall Street Journal, in the hands of Rupert Murdoch.
Photo: AP

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has moved one step closer to acquiring Dow Jones.

Read Dow Jones' statement about the proposed sale.

But there likely won't be any resolution this week, contrary to earlier reports that the Bancrofts would spend today and tomorrow deliberating. One close to the company said this morning that the Bancroft family won't meet for a detailed briefing until next Monday. Family members will then be asked to decide individually whether they are willing to vote their shares in favor of the proposed deal.

No majority needed
Once it is time to commit, however, News Corp. won't need a majority of family members to win; a report in the Journal estimates that one-third of them, in combination with outside shareholders' yes votes, would probably be enough to seal the sale.

Dow Jones acknowledged as much last night. "News Corporation has not indicated a specific level of Bancroft family support that would need to be obtained," the Dow Jones statement said. "If a satisfactory level is obtained promptly, the board of directors of Dow Jones will, and News Corporation has stated that its board of directors will, meet to review the definitive merger documents."

A spokeswoman for Dow Jones declined to provide a vote count for the board's decision to approve the sale, but the Journal and The New York Times described a pre-vote walkout by Christopher Bancroft, who has sought alternatives to a News Corp. deal, one abstention, one other vote not cast and 13 votes in favor.

An alternative deal?
That pre-vote walkout suggests certain Bancrofts still want more time to find an alternative deal, one that wouldn't deliver the Journal to Mr. Murdoch. Many people inside and outside the paper have expressed their concern that Mr. Murdoch's influence on editorial will hurt its reputation for independence. News Corp. has wide-ranging media business interests around the world.

Dow Jones said, however, that News Corp.'s next requirement, if it is going to pay $5 billion for the company, is "prompt" action.
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