Murdoch Gets His Deal — But Bancrofts Still Must OK

By: E&P Staff

A key moment in Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to take over Dow Jones & Co. and its Wall Street Journal has arrived. The Journal is reporting today a tentative agreement for News Corp. to purchase Dow Jones at its $5 billion offer price. The deal will be put to the full Dow Jones board this evening for its approval, Sarah Ellison reports.

However, approval by the Bancroft family may still remain a stumbling block. But yesterday, “Murdoch suggested the possibility of nominating former Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger to the board of News Corp., according to a person who was there,” Ellison relates.

“The deal still faces its biggest hurdle — getting approval from the Bancroft family, which controls 64% of Dow Jones’s voting power. Mr. Zannino has indicated to News Corp. that the family’s position on the deal is too close to call, according to a person who spoke to him.

“Michael B. Elefante, the Bancroft family’s lead trustee, has scheduled a meeting for Thursday at which he would present the agreement to all Bancroft family members before asking for their final vote. Mr. Elefante is expected to give the family several days to make a decision, suggesting a final resolution could be achieved some time next week.

“However, the Bancroft family remains sharply divided on a sale to News Corp. While some members are open to a deal, others have been looking hard for an alternative. Christopher Bancroft, 55 years old, a Dow Jones director who serves as a trustee overseeing shares that account for about 15% of the company’s total shareholder votes, has spent the past several weeks approaching hedge funds, private-equity firms and others in an attempt to buy enough shares of Dow Jones to block a sale.”

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