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Dow Jones may get new bidder

GE and Pearson are reportedly discussing a possible joint offer.

June 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — General Electric Co. and Financial Times publisher Pearson reportedly are discussing making a joint bid for Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

A privately held joint venture combining the Financial Times of London, Dow Jones and business channel CNBC was said to be in preliminary talks.

The talks were reported Sunday by both the Financial Times and the Journal in online reports.

The venture, according to people familiar with the matter, would be owned in equal parts by GE and Pearson, with Dow Jones' controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, keeping a minority stake in the new company, the Journal reported.

GE spokesman Gary Sheffer declined to comment on the report. A message left Sunday night for a Pearson spokesman was not immediately returned.

The Journal reported last week that Pearson, based in Britain, was trying to rally partners for a possible bid to rival Rupert Murdoch's $5-billion offer for Dow Jones.

Murdoch's News Corp., which owns the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, MySpace.com, the New York Post and many newspapers in Britain and Australia, has offered $60 a share for Dow Jones, well above the mid-$30s range the stock had been trading at prior to his offer becoming public.

Dow Jones shares closed Friday at $59.01.

The Bancroft family initially rebuffed Murdoch's approach but later agreed to meet with him to discuss concerns.

Some Dow Jones shareholders and a union that represents Dow Jones employees say they are concerned that Murdoch may meddle with the Journal's coverage to suit his business interests -- concerns that News Corp. says are unfounded.

A Bancroft family spokesman said last week that family members were still working on a proposal to News Corp. for setting up a structure that would safeguard the Journal's editorial independence.

The potential GE-Pearson venture would have a hand in many sources of business news and financial information around the world.

Besides The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and CNBC, it would own Barron's, half of the Economist magazine, and interests in business newspapers worldwide. It would also own the MarketWatch.com website and a controlling stake in financial information compiler Interactive Data Corp., among other holdings.

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