News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch inched one step closer to realizing his dream of owning The Wall Street Journal () after U.K. publisher Pearson said it dropped plans for a joint venture with General Electric to launch a competing bid.
In a terse statement Thursday, Pearson -- which owns financial newspaper Financial Times -- said it held exploratory talks with GE about combining FT with GE’s CNBC cable network and Dow Jones, parent of the Journal. But Pearson added that it “decided not to pursue a combination of CNBC, the Financial Times Group and Dow Jones.”
The publisher said it continues to discuss co-operating agreements between CNBC and the Financial Times Group.
While Pearson didn’t say it has abandoned its pursuit of Dow Jones altogether, it appears that News Corp. has the advantage in negotiations. On Wednesday, Dow Jones said its board of directors will take over negotiations with News Corp. concerning a possible deal, apparently frustrated with the pace of negotiations between the media giant and Dow Jones’ controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family.
News Corp. launched its $5 billion unsolicited bid for Dow Jones in May. Earlier this week, published reports said Pearson and GE were considering a competing bid, proposing a structure that would split FT, CNBC and Dow Jones into a separate privately held jont venture.
GE’s involvement in a bid was largely seen as a defensive move to protect its CNBC holding. News Corp. has said that it plans to launch its own competiing business network -- Fox Business Channel -- by the end of the year. A purchase of Dow Jones would appear to give Fox Business instant credibility.
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