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Happy Returns for Dow Jones Insiders

It's the sort of story you'd expect to read about in The Wall Street Journal: 23 people making a $360 million profit in just a few seconds.

The kicker, in this case, is that those people are the directors and officers of Dow Jones (DJ), the parent company of that financial newspaper, and in some select cases, accepting the bid could deliver a nice boon to former execs who hold options that lie deep underwater.

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.'s (NWS) extraordinary $5 billion offer for the legendary newspaper company yesterday probably shouldn't come as a surprise to those who have followed the aging press tycoon's career. For years he has sung the praises of the Journal and urged it to become a right-of-center mainstream alternative to The New York Times.

What must make this especially tempting is that it came out of the blue. Until Murdoch slapped his offer on the table yesterday morning, Dow Jones' stock, like that of other traditional newspaper companies, had been in steady decline for five years.

Tuesday Dow Jones said the Bancroft family, which owns the controlling interest in the company through its special voting shares, would vote against the bid .

But the idea of selling out must have been very, very tempting. Just consider what the $60 per share bid is worth to the Bancroft family and the board of directors.

According to Dow Jones public filings, the Bancrofts, including related family trusts, own 20.6 million shares. They hold just over 4 million common stock and 16.5 million voting B shares. On Monday afternoon, the family's stake was worth just $742 million. Under Murdoch's offer that rises to $1.2 billion, a gain of almost $500 million in a few moments. There will continue to be protestations about the sanctity of the Journal's independence, but $500 million can soothe some ruffled principles.

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