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Dow Jones lures more interest

Philadelphia newspaper investor Brian Tierney says he might compete with Murdoch's offer.

June 08, 2007|From Bloomberg News

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

Tierney confirmed comments he made to the Wall Street Journal expressing interest in the New York-based company, publisher of Barron's and the Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones' board put the company up for sale last week after the controlling Bancroft family agreed to consider Murdoch's offer and other possible bids.

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

"A Tierney bid is something of a long shot," said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of 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."

Shares of Dow Jones fell 16 cents to $60. They have risen 65% since News Corp.'s bid became public.

Tierney, a 50-year-old former advertising executive, said he didn't think Murdoch was offering too much for Dow Jones.

"If there is a process for the sale of the business, we would be inclined to participate in partnership with others," he added.

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

In June 2006, Tierney led a group of Philadelphia investors that included Toll Bros. Inc. Vice Chairman Bruce Toll to acquire the Philadelphia newspapers from McClatchy Co.

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

Anne Gordon, former Inquirer managing editor and a partner at New York-based private investment firm Dubilier & Co., said she viewed Tierney's interest in Dow Jones 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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