Dow Jones & Co. said Tuesday its top Europe executive has resigned, after a commercial deal between The Wall Street Journal Europe and another company raised questions about the paper's editorial standards.

Dow Jones, which owns the newspaper, said that its publisher, Andrew Langhoff, chose to step down because "Dow Jones has zero tolerance for even the appearance of a breach of ethical standards."

Langhoff, who had held the post for three years, was also managing director of Dow Jones in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The firm said the resignation followed a business agreement between the circulation department of The Wall Street Journal Europe and a Netherlands-based consultancy called Executive Learning Partnership.

The deal "could give the impression that news coverage can be influenced by commercial relationships," Dow Jones said in a statement.

The paper no longer has a relationship with the consultancy, and it will print a "reader clarification" on two of the paper's articles related to the deal, Dow Jones said. The contents of the articles, which appeared in the paper's Special Reports section, were not immediately clear.

In an internal memo, Langhoff told his colleagues that he was greatly concerned that the deal gave the impression that a boundary between editorial content and the paper's commercial ties had been crossed.

Dow Jones is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corp., which has been mired in a phone-hacking scandal involving its British newspapers.

Dow Jones said it will begin searching for a successor for Langhoff, and that senior vice president and head of strategy Kelly Leach will oversee European operations in the meantime.