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Murdoch closes in on Dow Jones

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has reached a tentative agreement for the buyout of Dow Jones & Co. Negotiators met Monday, and the deal was presented to the entire Dow Jonesáboard last night.

News Corp.‘s offer values the Dow Jones Company at $60 a share, or $5 billion dollars overall. The price represents a 65 percent premium over Dow Jones’ stock prices in May, which is when Murdoch’s bid became public. The company’s stock is valued at $56.95. Representatives from the companies did not immediately return phone calls.

The Bancroft family, which has a 64 percent shareholder vote in Dow Jones, has been lukewarm toward Murdoch’s proposals from the start and has yet to approve the deal. They have fielded other offers from supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle and Web entrepreneur Brad Greenspan but with no concrete results.

The family has expressed concern that a Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal would not maintain its editorial integrity.

Christopher Bancroft, a Dow Jones director, has been trying to block the sale by offering to buy stock from other major shareholders. He has so far been unsuccessful.

Much of the Bancrofts’ stock is held in family trusts, meaning a vote to sell requires the approval of all three trustees. The family’s lead trustee, Michael B. Elefante, has scheduled a meeting with the entire family for Thursday evening. He said he would give the Bancrofts several days to make their decision.

Murdoch has discussed plans to build Dow Jones’ online presence and expand overseas where News Corp. has multiple holdings. Plans are also in the works for a business-themed television channel supported by Dow Jones’ news resources.

Dow Jones owns the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Factiva news database, Barron’s, a number of community newspapers and stock market indicators such as the Dow Jones industrial average.

News Corp. owns the Fox broadcast network, Fox News Channel, 20th Century Fox Studios and MySpace. It also owns The New York Post and other newspapers in the United Kingdom and Australia.

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