Aloha part owner eyes Dow Jones
Billionaire Ron Burkle was approached by employees at the Wall Street Journal
NEW YORK » Billionaire investor Ron Burkle is interested in exploring a bid for Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal along with the union that represents Journal employees, the head of the union said yesterday.
The union, the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, had reached out to Burkle and other potential bidders after Dow Jones' controlling shareholders agreed to meet with Rupert Murdoch to consider his $5 billion bid for the company.
The news comes one day after Murdoch held his first meeting with three key Bancroft family members who also sit on Dow Jones' board.
Both Murdoch and a family representative said the talks were "constructive," but neither provided any further detail and it was unclear when any follow-up conversations might occur.
The union and many Journal employees, as well as a significant shareholder, Jim Ottaway Jr., remain opposed to Murdoch's bid, saying he might bend the Journal's coverage to suit his business interests.
Steve Yount, president of the Dow Jones union, said Burkle, whose Yucaipa Cos. is a controlling shareholder of Aloha Airlines, was the first of several potential bidders to respond to its overtures.
Yount said Burkle's interest was preliminary, and the details had yet to be sorted out. Yount said the union had also contacted other potential bidders, including investor Warren Buffett, but had only heard back so far from Burkle.
Yount declined to identify the other potential bidders or to detail the union's financial role in any bid.
In Omaha, Buffett's assistant Debbie Bosanek confirmed that a letter from the union had been received yesterday but would make no further comment.
Burkle had previously expressed an interest in buying Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, together with fellow billionaire Eli Broad, but that company eventually agreed to be taken private in a deal sponsored by Chicago real estate investor Sam Zell.