Dow Jones & Co. stock fell yesterday after AP reported that Rupert Murdoch was frustrated with Bancroft family negotiators changing their minds during negotiations over a sale of the company. Dow Jones representatives met earlier this week with potential bidders Ron Burkle and Brad Greenspan, but there's no indication they are ready to match the offer of 60 bucks a share from Murdoch's News Corporation.
Murdoch recently came to terms with Dow Jones management and directors on safeguards to protect the editorial integrity of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires in the event of a merger, but even that is still awaiting a final sign-off by the Bancroft family, which has controlled Dow Jones & Co. for 100 years. And there is still no agreement on financial terms, although it seems unlikely that Murdoch will be forced to up his five billion bucks bid in the absence of any competing offer.
SmartMedia observation: Some members of the Bancroft family have been pressing for all possible options other than a sale to News Corporation to be explored, as has the union representing some Dow Jones employees. So far the only names that have surfaced publicly as being interested are Burkle, a supermarket billionaire, and Greenspan, an Internet multi-millionaire. That they met together with Dow Jones representatives on Tuesday indicates that they are interested in working together. Even so, there's no indication that they plan a full buyout to match the Murdoch offer – but, rather, a partial buyout at 60 bucks a share and a financial restructuring. That is not likely to satisfy Dow Jones shareholders who want to sell all of their shares at the premium price of 60 bucks.