Murdoch Agrees to Buy Harper & Row for $300 Million

Associated Press

Media baron Rupert Murdoch said today that he has agreed to acquire Harper & Row Publishers Inc., topping two earlier offers for the 170-year-old book company with a $65-a-share bid he valued at about $300 million.

Harper executives said that they were pleased with the agreement and that Harper’s board will recommend it to shareholders.

Theodore L. Cross, lawyer, former book publisher and Harper stockholder, opened the bidding for Harper on March 9 by offering to pay $34 a share for the 94% stake in the company that he did not already own.

Two days later, rival publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. proposed to buy Harper for $50 a share, or about $220 million.

Harper’s board took no action on either offer March 13 but appointed a committee of three independent directors to explore the company’s “strategic alternatives.”