Why Dow Jones Makes Sense for Buffett

The investor has already called the <I>Journal</I> a trophy property.
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The Oracle of Omaha has said he doesn't have any interest in buying

Dow Jones

(DJ)

. But that was before the controlling Bancroft family changed its tune.

Now that the family has opened itself up to a possible sale, the siren song of media moguldom might yet overcome Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and chairman of

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRKA)

.

Friday's 15% rally shows investors are anticipating that another bidder will emerge for Dow Jones, beyond Rupert Murdoch's

News Corp.

(NWS) - Get Report

. But given the financial difficulties of the newspaper business, the ranks of possible buyers appear limited to deep-pocketed investors who can take a financial hit in exchange for the cachet of owning a widely read, highly respected publication.

That's where Buffett comes in. He loves the newspaper business almost as much as Murdoch, who wants to pay $5 billion for Dow Jones. To some degree, Murdoch clearly considers Dow Jones'

The Wall Street Journal

a trophy asset, rather than a financial one.

The same could well be true of Buffett, though it's impossible to know for sure. A call to Buffett's office was fielded by his assistant, who said he was unavailable to comment.

Still, the 76-year-old financial guru already owns the

Buffalo News

in New York and sits on the board of

The Washington Post

(WPO)

.

Making an investment in Dow Jones is perhaps too risky an investment for Berkshire outright. But Buffett -- net worth $52 billion, according to

Forbes

-- is planning to relinquish his Berkshire throne. Even if he is giving $30 billion to Bill and Melinda Gates' charity, it's far from outlandish to venture that Buffett could purchase Dow Jones for himself.

After all, Sam Zell agreed to take Chicago's

Tribune

(TRB)

private in a $8.2 billion buyout right after the Blackstone Group bought out his Equity Office Properties real estate empire for $39 billion.

And Buffett has as much as admitted he sees the

Journal

in trophy terms, even if he disclaims any interest in putting this one up on his shelf.

In a May 10 television interview with Charlie Rose, the billionaire investor compared owning media organizations such as the

Journal

and

New York Times

(NYT) - Get Report

to owning a top sports franchise like the New York Yankees.

Given the Yankees' troubles this spring, the comparison seems more apt than ever.