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Murdoch seeks sale decision this week

July 24, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Rupert Murdoch has asked Dow Jones & Co.'s controlling Bancroft family to make a decision on whether to sell the company this week, Christopher Bancroft said.

"I want the best possible outcome for Dow Jones & Co.," Bancroft said as he left a meeting of family members in Boston on Monday.

News Corp. has asked for a decision by July 27, he said. No further meetings are planned this week, Roy Winnick, a family spokesman, said in an interview.

Family members met to review the $60-a-share offer from Murdoch's News Corp., which Dow Jones' board recommended last week.

The Bancrofts, with a 64% voting stake in the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, are split over the bid, with some members concerned Murdoch would influence Dow Jones' news coverage to further his political and business interests.

"The family had a very productive meeting and they now have all the information they need to make a decision about the News Corp. offer," Michael Elefante, a Dow Jones director and a Bancroft family trustee, said after the meeting.

Monday's meeting was informational, said Bancroft, who has opposed Murdoch's $5-billion bid and wore a blue fishing cap with the words "bite me" on it. He is also a member of Dow Jones' board.

Shares of New York-based Dow Jones fell 31 cents to $54.69.

Class A shares of News Corp. rose 1 cent to $22.72.

"There is still some chance the family says no -- they're obviously looking for a white knight," said Brian Shipman, an analyst at UBS in New York, who rates the shares "reduce" and doesn't own any. "Sixty dollars a share is so compelling that they'll have a hard time walking away from it."

He spoke before the meeting ended.

Family members opposed to News Corp.'s offer have said they are concerned that the editorial independence of the Journal would be jeopardized under News Corp.

To appease the family, Murdoch, 76, agreed in late June to create a five-person board to oversee the hiring and firing of top Journal editors, people briefed on the plan said at the time.

The Journal's daily circulation of more than 2 million is second only to USA Today among U.S. newspapers.

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