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IN BRIEF : Publisher Favors Murdoch Takeover

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports </i>

William Collins PLC said today it would recommend that shareholders accept a $725-million takeover bid by publisher Rupert Murdoch’s News International PLC.

News International, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp., has provided Collins, a British publishing company, with assurances of editorial independence, which it had sought in exchange for recommending the takeover bid.

“Collins will remain free to pursue its existing editorial policy of publishing authors with a wide variety of beliefs and views,” News International said in a statement.

News International said it controls 54% of Collins’ voting stock and has offered $15.84 a share for the rest of the Collins shares.

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News International originally bid $527 million for Collins, an offer scorned by the publisher as “ludicrously low.”

Murdoch raised his offer to $725 million after an identical bid by Groupe de la Cite, France’s second largest book publisher.

Groupe de la Cite approached News International on Wednesday with an improved offer for Collins on condition that the Murdoch group would sell its voting stake in Collins. News International refused and the French firm withdrew its offer.


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