New York: Rupert Murdoch is poised to fulfill his dream of taking over The Wall Street Journal as a hard-fought takeover of Dow Jones & Co. is expected to be completed this week.
News Corp., the conglomerate headed by the Australian-born mogul Murdoch, clinched a deal earlier this year to take over the prestigious media group after members of the controlling family of shareholders accepted a $5.6-billion takeover offer.
Some of the family members and journalists at the Journal had opposed the offer, fearing damage to the newspaper’s integrity in a takeover by Murdoch, who has a reputation for meddling in editorial affairs.
The deal, that is still pending, expected approval by the shareholder vote, was sealed after members of the Bancroft family and trustees, representing about 37% of the family’s 64% voting power, agreed to the sale.
The merger agreement addresses a key concern that had sharply divided the Bancrofts by calling for the editorial independence of The Wall Street Journal, the leading US business newspaper.
News Corp. offered $60 per share for Dow Jones, representing an approximately 65 % premium over the closing sale price on 30 April, a day prior to the companies confirming news reports that News Corp. had made the offer.
News Corp. already has begun the process of reshaping management at The Wall Street Journal, drafting star players from elsewhere in its vast media empire.
On Friday the company announced two major appointments: Robert Thomson, editor of The Times of London, would become publisher of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, and Les Hinton, executive chairman of News International, Murdoch’s British newspaper group, will become chief executive at Dow Jones.
“I have every confidence that his energy, dedication and foresight will enable Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal to reach their full potential as the leading financial information source globally,” Murdoch said of Hinton’s appointment.
Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino had already announced he was stepping down after the deal closes. He has served as CEO of Dow Jones since February 2006 and plans to assist with his successor’s transition.
As Murdoch, 76, closed in on his long-sought prize, The Wall Street Journal, he gave his son, James, an expanded role in the media empire, naming him to a position apparently aimed at grooming him to head the conglomerate.
News Corp. announced on 7 December 2007, that James Murdoch, 34, the youngest of Murdoch’s four children, will be the boss of News Corp. in Europe and Asia, effective immediately.
News Corporation is the umbrella company for an empire that also includes the Fox News Channel, the New York Post newspaper, the Fox Hollywood film studios and television network and the rapidly growing Internet social networking site MySpace.
Other holdings include The Australian newspaper and the US-based book publishing giant HarperCollins.