UPDATE 1-News Corp veteran to lead Dow Jones turnaround bid

Thu May 8, 2014 7:24pm EDT

(Adds executives comments from quarterly call, financial detail on Dow Jones)

By Jennifer Saba

May 8 (Reuters) - News Corp on Thursday made the interim appointment of Dow Jones Chief Executive Officer William Lewis permanent as the company opted for a veteran of Rupert Murdoch's empire to oversee a turnaround effort.

Lewis, 45, was named to lead Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, on an interim basis on Jan. 21 after the abrupt departure of Lex Fenwick, who was formerly chief executive of rival financial news provider Bloomberg.

Lewis, a onetime Financial Times M&A reporter, will have his work cut out repairing relations with Dow Jones' core customer base of banks, hedge funds and retail brokers and stopping the loss of sales.

News Corp is overhauling Dow Jones' institutional products following the exit of Fenwick, who had implemented a one-size-fits all strategy with a bundled product known as DJX with little room for price negotiation.

"We've adjusted the product, we've adjusted the pitch and we've adjusted the pricing to suit our customers' needs," Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp said on a conference call with analysts after reporting quarterly results.

"What Will Lewis and the team have done in the last few months is go out and frankly talk to customers and find out what they want from us."

News Corp Chief Financial Officer Bedi Singh said during an earnings call on Thursday that for the quarter ending March, Dow Jones institutional sales fell $20 million. That compares with a $17 million drop in institutional sales in the prior quarter. The company does not break out the total institutional sales number.

Fenwick left Dow Jones after his Dow Jones enterprise business strategy, which includes products like Newswires and news database Factiva, faltered and alienated clients with a rigid pricing structure.

Thomson said in a statement that Lewis had brought "focus and energy" to Dow Jones and "reconnected with core clients."

"He has also brought extra vigor to The Wall Street Journal franchise, which is developing its digital strategy, an area in which Will has particular expertise," he added.

News Corp also announced on Thursday better than expected quarterly earnings, where adjusted earnings per share of 11 cents handily beat analysts expectations of 3 cents.

Lewis was recruited to lead News Corp's management and standards committee after a phone hacking scandal from 2011 to 2012. He was named chief creative officer of News Corp last year when the company split from its cable, TV and movie properties now under 21st Century Fox.

Lewis, like his boss Thomson, is a veteran of the Financial Times. He also was the business editor at The Sunday Times and editor in chief of The Telegraph Media Group.

Thomson Reuters competes with Dow Jones in providing news and data to banks and other financial institutions. (Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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