- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

2:24 p.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, said today it has received an unsolicited bid from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. to buy the company for $60 per share, or $5 billion.

Shares of the financial news publishing company soared after the offer was reported.

Shares of Dow Jones initially surged almost 60 percent in late-morning trading after the financial news network CNBC reported on the takeover bid. That led to a trading halt on the New York Stock Exchange that was lifted after Dow Jones confirmed details of the offer.

After trading resumed, Dow Jones’ shares shot to $54.75, up $18.42 from yesterday’s close of $36.33, or 50.7 percent, in heavy volume after reaching as high as $57.88. They had opened the day at $37.12 and had traded in a 52-week range of $32.16 to $40.08 before today’s news.

Dow Jones said briefly that its board had received the proposal from News Corp. to buy the company with either cash or a combination of cash and News Corp. stock.

Dow Jones is controlled by the Bancroft family through a special class of shares and cannot be taken over without the family’s consent. The company said its board and members of the Bancroft family were evaluating the proposal and that there was no assurance it would lead to a transaction.

A spokesman for Dow Jones said the company had no comment beyond its statement. Spokesmen for News Corp. and the Bancroft family did not immediately return calls seeking additional comment.

Like other newspaper publishers, Dow Jones has seen its shares beaten down over the past few years amid sluggish advertising and the loss of readers and advertising dollars to the Internet.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t prevented an unprecedented level of acquisition activity in the industry. Earlier this month Tribune Co. agreed to go private in an $8 billion deal led by real estate investor Sam Zell, and last year McClatchy Co. acquired what then was the second-largest newspaper publisher in the country, Knight Ridder Inc., following a shareholder revolt.

Also, the New York Times Co., which like Dow Jones and several other newspaper companies is controlled by a family through a special class of shares, is facing investor unrest over its sluggish financial performance. Last week, shareholders withheld 42 percent of their votes for directors, a public rebuke to the Sulzberger family, which controls the company.

News Corp. started out in the newspaper business and still owns a large number of papers, largely in Britain and Australia, including the Sun tabloid in England and the Times of London as well as the New York Post.

The company is a major global media conglomerate and owns the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, MySpace, the Twentieth Century Fox studio and satellite broadcasters in Europe and Asia. It is planning to start a business news cable channel in the fall.

In addition to the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones publishes Dow Jones Newswires, Barron’s, several leading market indicators including the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and a group of community newspapers.

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