Bancrofts vote to support Murdoch deal for WSJ

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media conglomerate looks likely to buy the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper reported today.

News Corp has offered $60 (£30) a share, or £5 billion (£2.5 billion), to buy Dow Jones & Co, and the controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, have voted to support the deal.

On its website today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bancroft family members owning 32 per cent of Dow Jones & Co’s overall votes have agreed to support Murdoch’s bid.

That level of support is likely to be more than enough to guarantee News Corp enough votes to clinch the deal, the paper reported.

Dow Jones shares were up sharply in trading today as investors reacted to newspaper reports that a deal for News Corp to buy Dow Jones was imminent.

The Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for a century, had a 5pm ET (10pm UK time) deadline yesterday to tell the family’s lead trustee how they would vote.

As the deadline passed, a Bancroft family spokesman declined to comment on the vote’s outcome.

The Bancrofts collectively control 64 per cent of the shareholder vote of Dow Jones through a special class of stock, but only about half of them need to support the deal for it to succeed.

The family has been deeply divided over whether to sell to Mr Murdoch, largely over concerns that his hands-on management style could affect the papers’ coverage.

The Wall Street Journal said an arrangement where Dow Jones may pay 30 million dollars in deal-related costs could have swayed some family members.

The Dow Jones board has tentatively approved the deal, and the final decision now rests with the Bancrofts.

Besides several Bancroft family members, including Dow Jones director Christopher Bancroft, Mr Murdoch’s bid is being opposed by former board member Jim Ottaway Jr, whose family controls seven per cent of the shareholder vote.

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