Bancrofts bicker, Murdoch decides


In-family squabbling by the Bancrofts continued beyond their agreement to sell Dow Jones and Company to News Corporation for 5.6 billion bucks. The family was unable to agree on a nominee to the News Corporation board, so company CEO Rupert Murdoch ultimately made his own choice – a 27-year-old opera singer who was a dark horse candidate among the Bancrofts. Family email exchanges over the board nominee selection have been published on the website of the Wall Street Journal, owned by Dow Jones. At least three members of the Bancroft family were campaigning for the News Corporation board nod, with Natalie Bancroft throwing her hat in the ring, despite her lack of experience in either business or journalism. As the family bickered over the choice, a deadline passed to submit the family designee for the board seat to the News Corporation board of directors. The family did eventually communicate that its first choice was Mike Hill, who had supported the sale to Murdoch, but whose political activism apparently didn’t sit well with News Corporation management. In the end, Murdoch went with the young opera singer, who lives in Europe and will apparently have to commute to board meetings normally held in New York and LA.

RBR/TVBR observation: Despite her age and lack of experience, we doubt that Murdoch and his advisors chose Natalie Bancroft because they expect her to be a lapdog on the board. After all, she was among the Bancroft family contingent that opposed selling Dow Jones to News Corporation. But she had also been blunt in questioning whether her own family had kept up with their stewardship responsibilities at the company they had controlled for 100 years. She will be the only woman on the News Corporation board, which was a deficiency that Murdoch hoped to correct. The 77-year-old CEO evidently saw something enticing in the views of the board member wannabe 50 years his junior which he thinks will benefit News Corporation for years to come.