Pearson, GE in talks about joint bid for Dow Jones: report

Proposed scenario would allow the controlling Bancroft family to keep a minority interest.

NEW YORK ( -- Pearson PLC is in talks with General Electric about a joint bid for Dow Jones that would permit the controlling Bancroft family to keep a minority interest, according to a report published Sunday afternoon.

In discussions described as preliminary, a proposed scenario would combine GE's business television channel CNBC, Dow Jones, and Pearson's Financial Times in a joint venture, the online edition of Dow Jones' Wall Street Journal reported.

The joint venture would be privately held, and owned equally by GE (Charts, Fortune 500) and Pearson, with the Bancroft family keeping a minority stake in the new company, the newspaper reported.

In May, News Corp. (down $0.23 to $23.96, Charts, Fortune 500) made a $5 billion offer, or $60 a share, for Dow Jones. News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch has since met with the Bancroft family to reassure them that the offer for the company would not undermine its flagship newspaper.

Murdoch said the talks held earlier this month were "constructive."

News Corp. declined to provide a comment to the Journal about the Pearson-GE talks.

Other names circulating as potential suitors for Dow Jones include billionaire Ron Burkle, who teamed with the union representing Dow Jones employees, as well as Philadelphia newspaper executive Brian Tierney.

The IAPE union, which represents 2,000 Dow Jones workers, also said earlier this month it also approached Berkshire Hathaway's (down $200.10 to $109,100.00, Charts, Fortune 500) Warren Buffett about a potential counter-offer to News Corp.'s bid.

Buffett said last month it was "very, very unlikely" that he would bid for Dow Jones, either as a personal investment or together with his company Berkshire Hathaway, citing a high bid already on the table from Murdoch.

Dow Jones (up $1.11 to $59.01, Charts) shares jumped over 3 percent in Friday afternoon trade on the NYSE. Pearson (up $0.21 to $17.21, Charts) shares were more than 1 percent higher. Top of page