Dow Jones Board Again Gives Rupert The Silent Treatment

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By: E&P Staff

For the second time since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. offered a big premium to buy up Dow Jones & Co., the financial media giant’s board of directors met without taking any action.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, in an article by Sarah Ellison and Robin Sidel, that the board in its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday has decided to stay mum about as long as the controlling Bancroft family remain opposed to the $60-a-share offer.

This was the first board meeting since Murdoch’s May 11 letter to the Bancroft’s assuring them that he would not damage the journalistic integrity of the Journal, Barron’s, or its other news products.

But the Journal reported there are fissures inside the board about resisting the bid — which represents a 67% premium on the stock price before news of the offer leaked.

Citing “two people familiar with the board’s thinking,” the Journal said “several” board members were surprised the Bancrofts are resisting the big premium price.

A Bancroft family representative on the board has said that members representing 52% of the voting stock oppose the bid. Altogether, the far-flung family has a 64% stake, and some members reportedly favor exploring the Murdoch offer.

The Ottaway family, which controls another 5.2% voting stake, is adamantly opposed to a sale.

During Wednesday’s board meeting, the Journal reported, directors discussed adopting a “change-in-control” compensation package for executives. With Dow Jones facing the possibility of a takeover, the package could be an important recruiting tool.

The board also heard a presentation on its online and wire services, which could face increased competitive pressure as a result of the proposed merger of Reuters and Thomson, the Journal reported.

The board next meets in June.

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