NEW YORK - Rupert Murdoch's $5-billion-plus takeover of Dow Jones & Co. Inc., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, cleared its final hurdle yesterday as shareholders of the financial-publishing company gave their approval. The deal closed last night.
The takeover is sure to bring significant changes to the Journal, starting with a new management team that was announced last week. Longtime News Corp. publishing executive Les Hinton will be chief executive, while Robert Thomson, editor of Murdoch's The Times newspaper in London, will be publisher. Several Dow Jones executives are departing, including chief executive officer Richard Zannino.
Dow Jones held the shareholder vote in a hotel in the financial district of Lower Manhattan, near its headquarters. The meeting was attended by a number of Dow Jones executives and employees as well as several members of the Bancroft family.
About 78 percent of the company's publicly traded shares were voted for the deal, while 54 percent of the Class B shares, which are largely held by the Bancrofts, were in favor.
Murdoch has said he wants to beef up the newspaper's online operations and Washington coverage, and he is contemplating changes to the Journal's Web site to further open it up to nonpaying subscribers.
Murdoch said Dow Jones had major potential despite a general malaise affecting many U.S. newspapers because of the booming demand worldwide for business news and information.
The deal places Dow Jones, which had been family-controlled for more than a century, into the fold of Murdoch's News Corp. global media conglomerate, which owns the Fox broadcast network, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox News Channel, satellite-TV businesses in Europe and Asia, and MySpace, as well as a large group of newspapers in Australia and the United Kingdom, and the New York Post.
The controlling shareholders of Dow Jones, the far-flung Bancroft family, had initially rebuffed Murdoch's approach this spring, but eventually he was able to win over enough of them to assure the deal would be approved.
Murdoch's price of $60 a share represented an extremely rich premium of 65 percent over the value of Dow Jones shares immediately before the bid became public.