Murdoch Comes Out On Top

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rupert1.jpgToday the battle ended. Rupert Murdoch has officially been granted enough votes by the Bancroft family to buy Dow Jones & Company, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for $5 billion.

Trusts and family members that represent about 32% of the shareholder vote were reported to have shown their support of the offer, although details are still being ironed out.

Murdoch has spent his career building a global media empire called News Corporation that has a net worth of $28 billion and counting. The verdict released today is certain to boost that number. Included under the News Corp. umbrella already are over 100 newspapers worldwide, online social network giant MySpace, various satellite broadcast operations and the Fox television network.

This announcement also doubles as the official end of an era for Dow Jones, The Journal and the Bancroft family that has had control over the company for over 100 years.

There was a split in the family deliberations. Many of the three dozen members voiced concern over the credibility of the publication under Murdoch’s control; others argued that the offer was far more than they could pass up with a currently struggling newspaper industry.

At the time of the offer, Dow Jones stock was valued at $36 a share, which is 40% less than the bid of $60 a share that Murdoch will be paying.

This deal comes shortly after acquisitions of Journal competitors Knight Ridder and the Tribune. The same questions are being raised for newspaper publications that have been raised for ad networks online: in the current market, can these companies continue to be independent with the number of ad dollars migrating towards the web, and the increasing power of larger media conglomerates? Do the news pages and ad networks alike have to submit to their industry’s versions of Wal-Mart?

Debate and jockeying of trusts and shares from one side of the vote to the other has been going on until the eleventh hour. Many opposing family members have even been trying to secure deals to secure some shares and have other members sell off theirs in order to keep control of the company.

The family has owned the Dow Jones since 1902, and hold 64% of the shareholder vote. The bulk of the voting power is held by the members of the family’s oldest generation who are considered primary trustees and family lawyers who are also named trustees.

News Corp. needed at least 30-34% of the total shareholder vote from the family to be able to go through with the deal.

Murdoch will already be utilizing the content, reporters and editors from the Dow Jones for a deal made with CNBC that allows the network exclusive rights to the use and appearance of said content and staff members until 2012. He will be starting a Fox Business Channel this fall which will be direct competition for CNBC.

The discussion that had caused so much turmoil within the family over the past four months has finally come to an end, and as the dust settles, Rupert Murdoch is standing tall.

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