By: Joe Strupp
Questions have arisen over when Dow Jones & Co. officials learned that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch was interested in buying the media company after The Wall Street Journal reported that a meeting between Murdoch and Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino had occurred more than a week earlier than first reported.
In a Thursday story, the Journal, Dow Jones’ flagship property, revealed that Murdoch had met with Zannino on March 29, not April 9, which the paper had previously reported. “Near the end of that meeting — a wide-ranging discussion of the media business — Mr. Murdoch expressed interest in acquiring Dow Jones, though he didn’t make an offer or mention a price,” the Journal reported, citing “people familiar with the situation.”
The Journal also reported that Zannino informed company lawyers and several board members about the meeting immediately after it took place. That would allow more time for possible leaks if they occurred.
Dow Jones officials have declined to comment on the reported earlier meeting.
The new timeline comes 10 days after Murdoch’s $60-per-share offer became public, driving the Dow Jones’ stock price up and sparking speculation about what his purchase of the company would mean. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also launched an investigation to determine if word of the offer leaked out early and if insider-trading charges are warranted.
The Journal has reported that the Dow Jones board met via conference call on April 13 to discuss a possible Murdoch purchase. Murdoch made the formal offer in a letter on April 17.