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Dow Jones preparing for a buyout?

Dow Jones & Co., the newspaper publisher considering a $5 billion buyout from Rupert Murdoch, modified their severance payout to 135 managers if Dow Jones is sold.

The 135 managers are eligible for a year's pay if they are fired within two years with a change of control, along with 25 senior company executives who are covered up to 2 years, a Dow Jones Spokesperson said today. Dow Jones is also offering a minimum 12 weeks of severance to eligible employees that are fired as a result of a buyout. According to he firm about 850 employees qualify.

The controlling Family of Dow Jones, The Bancrofts first rejected the offer to Murdoch, but had a change of heart when Toronto-based Thomson Corporation proposed an acquisition to their "competitor" Reuters for $17.2 billion. The Bancrofts need to lock in the fact that Murdoch will preserve the long-time editorial independence of Dow Jones. Dow Jones also owns Barrons'. Today the June Dow Jones Futures rose 0.36 percent, taking into consideration that the rollover date was today from June into September.

Dieter von Holtzbrinck, the heir of a Germany-based publishing empire, resigned from Dow Jones' board Thursday in protest of the company's embrace of a $5 billion buyout offer from Murdoch's media monster, News Corp.

In a letter
disclosed in a regulatory filing from Dow Jones on Thursday, von Holtzbrinck said he's concerned that The Wall Street Journal publisher's journalistic standards will be in jeopardy in the event of a sale to Murdoch. Von Holtzbrinck, who was one of 16 Dow Jones board members, abstained from a vote Tuesday in which a majority of the directors endorsed the sale to Murdoch.

"Although I'm convinced that News Corp.'s offer is very generous in financial terms, I'm very worried that Dow Jones' unique journalistic values will long-term strongly suffer after the proposed sale," he said. "Listening to our lawyers, one has to vote for a deal which is in the best (financial) interest for the shareholders, except if one can prove that such deal bears risks for the company that overcompensate the financial profits."

Von Holtzbrinck went on to note News Corp.'s journalistic track record, which has tended to infuse Murdoch's political views and business interests into its news coverage -- a practice that runs counter to the editorial practices at Dow Jones.