The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) publisher Dow Jones & Co said on Wednesday that its board would take the lead in discussions over a potential acquisition of the company by News Corp, the sprawling media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch.
News Corp had been waiting for a proposal from the Bancrofts on ways to safeguard the WSJ's editorial independence. The family had been expected to deliver those plans to News Corp last week, following an initial meeting with Murdoch early this month.
On Wednesday, following a meeting of Dow Jones' board, the company issued a statement saying that its directors had concluded, together with family representatives, that the best way to proceed was for the board to take the lead in considering "all aspects" of the News Corp proposal and other possible alternatives for the company, including remaining independent.
The Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for more than a century, had said it was primarily concerned with questions of journalistic integrity.
Once those concerns were satisfied, any discussions with News Corp would have proceeded to Dow Jones' board over other matters, including price and corporate governance.
The statement from Dow Jones' board indicated that questions of the WSJ's integrity would be considered as a whole in the talks with News Corp, which is offering to buy Dow Jones for US$60 a share, or US$5 billion.
Murdoch's high offer price -- a premium of about 65 percent over the stock's closing price before his offer became public -- has yet to be matched by other serious bidders.
Financial Times publisher Pearson Plc has been reported to be in early talks with General Electric Co, which owns the financial news channel CNBC, about putting together a possible alternative to Murdoch's bid. News Corp, which owns Fox News Channel and other cable networks, is planning to launch a business news cable channel to compete with CNBC.
On Wednesday, Brad Greenspan, the former chief executive of the parent company of My-Space, said he would offer to buy about 25 percent of Dow Jones stock at US$60 a share, the same price Murdoch has offered, saying it was an "attractive alternative to the current options."
Greenspan has sued MySpace, which was acquired by News Corp, saying it violated antitrust laws by blocking links to his new online video-sharing venture.
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