- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2007


Brian Tierney, who led a group that bought the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News last year for $515 million, said he may bid for Dow Jones & Co., competing with Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion offer.

Mr. Tierney yesterday confirmed comments he made to the Wall Street Journal expressing interest in the New York company, publisher of Barron’s and the Wall Street Journal. It also owns the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Dow Jones‘ board put the company up for sale last week after the controlling Bancroft family agreed to consider Mr. Murdoch’s offer and other bids.

Mr. Tierney, chief executive officer of Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, is the second potential bidder to surface as Dow Jones and the Bancrofts consider selling the company to Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. for $60 a share. Dow Jones‘ union, the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, has enlisted billionaire Ron Burkle to attract alternatives to Mr. Murdoch’s bid.

“A Tierney bid is something of a long shot,” said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism research group in Washington. “He would need a group of investors and he appears to have his hands full in Philadelphia.”

Mr. Murdoch met with the Bancroft family on Monday, where he rebuffed their initial proposal to create an independent editorial board with the power to hire and fire the Wall Street Journal’s top editors.

The New York Times reported that family advisers want to choose prominent figures in U.S. journalism or respected names from within the company and to focus on retirees.

They floated names including Paul E. Steiger, the former managing editor who is now the Journal’s editor at large, and Peter R. Kann, the former star reporter who became chief executive and chairman of Dow Jones. Others include former top editors of major newspapers, like John Carroll of the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, Benjamin C. Bradlee of The Washington Post and Joseph Lelyveld of the New York Times, the New York Times reported.

Shares of Dow Jones fell 16 cents to $60 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have risen 65 percent since News Corp.’s bid became public.

A Wall Street group and an Internet entrepreneur also have expressed interest in mounting an offer, Reuters News Agency reported, quoting Christopher Mackin, an adviser to the employee union.

Mr. Mackin, founder and president of Ownership Associates, declined to identify the entrepreneur or the members of the group. He also said Mr. Burkle is working with the union but “has not committed funding or financing,” Reuters reported.

Mr. Tierney, a 50-year-old former advertising executive, said he doesn’t think Mr. Murdoch is overpaying. “If there is a process for the sale of the business, we would be inclined to participate in partnership with others.”

Dow Jones spokeswoman Andrea Grinbaum declined to comment. Roy Winnick, spokesman for the Bancrofts, had no immediate comment.

Dow Jones‘ union didn’t contact Mr. Tierney to gauge his interest in the company, said union President Steve Yount.

Tierney wasn’t one of those on a short list of billionaires who we believe would be interested in making a bid for Dow Jones,” Mr. Yount said.

Last June, Mr. Tierney led a group of Philadelphia investors that included Toll Brothers Inc. Vice Chairman Bruce Toll to acquire the Philadelphia newspapers from McClatchy Co. The acquisition was financed with support from Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia Bank.

In January, the Philadelphia Inquirer eliminated 71 jobs, or 17 percent of its newsroom staff, after Mr. Tierney said staff cuts would be necessary to meet debt payments in light of advertising and circulation declines.

The Inquirer’s newsroom employs about 330 people, down from 630 in 1990, according to the Philadelphia Area Newspaper Guild.

Anne Gordon, former Inquirer managing editor and partner at New York private investment firm Dubilier & Co., said she viewed Mr. Tierney’s interest with skepticism.

“Some may see similarities with Mr. Murdoch but I would offer caution between a bold gesture and realistic bid,” she said.



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