Correction to This Article
An Aug. 1 Page One article incorrectly said that News Corp. owns National Geographic Television. News Corp. owns a controlling interest in the National Geographic Channel, but National Geographic Television is a separate company in which News Corp. has no ownership interest.

Murdoch Seizes Wall St. Journal In $5 Billion Coup

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By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rupert Murdoch has won the Wall Street Journal.

The boards of directors of Journal parent Dow Jones & Co. and Murdoch's News Corp. approved Murdoch's unsolicited $5 billion bid for the company last night, according to a source. The offer received more than enough support from the deeply split Bancroft family, Dow Jones's controlling owners.

The deal places America's premier financial newspaper in the hands of a 76-year-old mogul who owns what may soon become the world's largest media company. News Corp.'s properties include the Times of London, "American Idol," "The Simpsons Movie," Fox News Channel, MySpace, National Geographic television and a British tabloid that prints photos of topless women.

The source who confirmed the deal spoke on condition of anonymity because the takeover had not been formally announced.

The colorful and controversial tabloid king faced strong opposition during his four-month run at Dow Jones and whipped up worries that he would destroy the credibility of the august Journal. But his $60-a-share bid for the company, which also includes Barron's financial weekly, Dow Jones Newswires and the Ottaway community papers, proved too lucrative to resist. The bid represented an eye-popping 67 percent premium on the trading value of the stock before Murdoch's offer.

After the takeover, which is predicted to take place by the end of the year, the Journal will join a global media conglomerate that already is second in size to only Time Warner. News Corp., valued at nearly $68 billion, dwarfs Dow Jones, which was worth a little more than $3 billion before Murdoch's bid became public May 1 and sent Dow Jones stock soaring. Murdoch first made the offer March 29.

The audacious offer kept potential rivals at bay; no other serious suitors emerged for Dow Jones.

Murdoch has promised to pour money into the Journal and its Web site and use his satellite television networks in Europe and Asia to spread Journal content the world over.

The sale is the latest upheaval in the churning U.S. newspaper industry, which continues to lose readers and advertisers to other media, and will probably change the landscape of financial news reporting. Such Journal rivals as the Financial Times and CNBC must now ready for battle against a Murdoch-backed, more muscular Journal and the cable business news channel Murdoch plans to launch in October. Fox Business Network would be a rival to CNBC, and probably will use the 750 financial journalists in the Journal's newsroom to provide it with content.

Possibly complicating matters: CNBC has a content-sharing contract with the Journal that runs for five more years.

"CNBC expects the contract to be honored no matter who owns Dow Jones," said Kevin Goldman, the cable channel's vice president of media relations. "CNBC remains the global leader in business news providing information that is fast, accurate, actionable and unbiased." News Corp. had no comment on the possible dissolution of the deal with CNBC.

Murdoch's acquisition of the Journal probably will force other financial news outlets to beef up as well.


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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