GE pulls out of race for Dow Jones

Powerhouse kicks around bid, then passes

NEW YORK — General Electric said Thursday it has abandoned talks with Financial Times publisher Pearson PLC about a possible bid for Dow Jones & Co., removing a potential rival to a $5 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

GE said it held “exploratory discussions” with London-based Pearson about combining GE’s CNBC business news cable channel, Pearson’s Financial Times newspaper and Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Dow Jones Newswires, but decided not to proceed.

Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino told FT staff in a note that given News Corp.’s interest in Dow Jones and Thomson Corp.’s pending deal to acquire Reuters Group PLC, Pearson had “kicked around some ideas” about combining CNBC, the FT and Dow Jones, but “didn’t see that combination stacking up for our shareholders.”

Murdoch, who built News Corp. into a major media conglomerate that spans the globe, has long wanted to own the Journal, a prestigious, prize-winning newspaper that carries tremendous clout in the business world.

Despite its prestige and storied publishing history, Dow Jones is a relatively small company compared with media giants such as News Corp., with $507 million in revenues in the first quarter of the year, versus $7.5 billion in the same time period for News Corp. News Corp.’s current cash stockpile of $7.3 billion easily exceeds the $5 billion it has offered for Dow Jones.

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