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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ron Burkle counters Rupert Murdock

Lefty billionaire and Clinton pal, Ron Burkle is taking on Rupert Murdock in an attempt to gain control of the venerable Wall Street Journal. An official for the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees said on Tuesday that it has held talks with Ron Burkle and claims that the billionaire investor is working with it to mount a rival bid for the company.

The union opposes the US$5 billion offer for Dow Jones from Rupert Murdoch's Faux News Corporation, as well they should. IAPE representative, Steven Yount, said Burkle had told the union that he is interested in working with it to formulate an offer for the company, which owns The Wall Street Journal and other newspaper titles. Assuming that Burkle does come through with an offer, his odds of winning will be enhanced if he satisfies two tests: 1. He pays more money than Murdoch and 2. He guarantees not to meddle in editorial decisions. There is optimism to be had on both accounts.

Mr Burkle, who made his fortune in the supermarket sector, was part of an unsuccessful bid last year for another company which publishes The Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He continually strives to purchase more media, in an attempt to begin taking back the airwaves and newspapers that progressive causes lost after the end of the Fairness Doctrine.

From Forbes:

Ronald Wayne Burkle, 54, the California-born son of a grocery store manager, worked for his dad as a box boy, dropped out of college and put in 15 years at his dad's store and the company that owned it. In 1981 he mounted a botched buyout attempt of the chain and was fired. And then he got very serious about investing, parlaying a few lucky bets on regional grocery chains into a controlling stake in giant Pathmark, management of four private equity funds with $4 billion from investors, stakes in some 35 companies and a personal fortune that FORBES pegs at $2.5 billion.

Along the way he cultivated a do-gooder image for making peace with recalcitrant unions and investing in low-income urban territories where bigger players fear to tread. He made pals of young stars, pumping $50 million into the apparel company of rap producer Sean (Diddy) Combs and rehabbing a New York City apartment as a crash pad with the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who is 22 years his junior. Above all Burkle made some political connections. He raised millions for the Democratic Party and befriended--and now employs--Bill Clinton as his irrepressible and irresistible rainmaker.

Connections matter in private equity. A piker in a game dominated by $10 billion funds, Burkle built his fortune buying where no one else cared to go--junky companies with tense union relations, tortured finances and tattered physical surroundings. He invested lavishly in the Democrats when the Republicans controlled Congress. In recent years he has raised $50 million for the Democratic Party; Greenacres, his 50,000-square-foot mansion on eight acres in Beverly Hills, hosts up to 40 political fundraisers in a year. Now all that hobnobbing looks smart.

I'm glad this guy is a part of our team.

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Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

Fingers crossed and hopes high.

title="comment permalink">June 05, 2007 10:40 PM  
Blogger sumo said...


title="comment permalink">June 06, 2007 5:52 AM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Sounds like that guy was making all the right moves at the right times. What's that called? Lucky? I'd say yes- at least in the beginning. Good for him because we need more leftys making moves like that.

title="comment permalink">June 06, 2007 12:08 PM  
Blogger Hill said...

ANYBODY that opposes that creep Murdoch is a good guy, in my book.
I, too, am glad this guy is part of our team.

title="comment permalink">June 07, 2007 6:43 AM  

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