Rupert Murdoch moved closer to owning the Wall Street Journal today as the News Corp media conglomerate signed off on the £2.5bn (€3.6bn) deal, according to US reports.
News Corp has offered 60 dollars (£30) a share, or five billion dollars (€3.6bn), to buy the Journal’s publisher Dow Jones & Co.
The deal would put Mr Murdoch in place as proprietor of a global newspaper that is widely regarded as required reading among the business and power elite.
It was reported in the US that News Corp’s board has approved the deal, but there has been no official confirmation.
The Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones for a century, had a deadline on Monday 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.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bancroft family members owning 32% of Dow Jones & Co’s overall votes have agreed to support Mr 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.
The Bancrofts collectively control 64% 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 $30m in deal-related costs could have swayed some family members.
The Dow Jones board has tentatively approved the deal.
In a letter to fellow family members last week, Bancroft descendant Crawford Hill urged them to vote for a sale.
He said the family had not taken an active enough role in overseeing Dow Jones and was now “paying the price for our passivity over the past 25 years”.
Yesterday outside the Dow Jones building in lower Manhattan, New York, Thomas Walker, who worked on the global copy desk at The Wall Street Journal, said he was quitting rather than see the paper sold to Mr Murdoch.
“I don’t want to work for the man,” he said.
Dow Jones shares rose sharply yesterday amid hopes that a deal was close, and were getting closer to Mr Murdoch’s offering price of $60 (€44.50) a share, indicating growing confidence the deal will go through.