WARSAW (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch said he had no plans to raise his $5 billion bid for media group Dow Jones & Co. Inc. and expected final approval from the controlling Bancroft family within two to three weeks, “if at all.”
This contradicts one widely held view of investors and financial analysts, who have been expecting Murdoch to raise his offer, if only slightly, to seal a deal.
But when asked on a visit to Warsaw if his company, News Corp., planned to raise its bid, Murdoch said no.
“Everything is done. We are just waiting for a final approval of the Bancroft family,” Murdoch told Reuters. “The final approval is in the next two, three week’s time or not at all.”
This was one of Murdoch’s strongest indications yet that he could walk away from his bid, which would probably send Dow Jones shares tumbling back to their price levels before the offer was made public, analysts have said.
A representative of the Bancroft family declined to comment. A Dow Jones spokeswoman was not immediately available.
Murdoch was in Poland to meet Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and government officials ahead of the relaunch of a television station in which he has a significant stake.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday that News Corp. had cleared a major obstacle to the $5 billion purchase of Dow Jones after the two companies agreed in principle on safeguards to the editorial independence of Dow Jones’ news operations.
Murdoch, News Corp.’s chief executive, is building his own financial news channel for cable television, aiming to usurp General Electric Co.’s CNBC, which has a news partnership with Dow Jones.
The Bancroft family met Murdoch in early June and discussed a proposal to protect editorial independence, and the talks accelerated last week.
Some three dozen Bancroft family members control Dow Jones through a combined ownership of 64 percent of voting shares.
Murdoch is offering to buy the company for $60 per share, a 65 percent premium to Dow Jones’ stock price before the company’s disclosure of the bid at the beginning of May.
Dow Jones shares were down 12 cents at $58.65, and News Corp.’s class A stock fell 23 cents to $21.28 in morning New York Stock Exchange trading.