Despite yesterday’s news that holders of a slight majority of the voting power of Dow Jones & Co would vote to reject the bid from Rupert Murdoch, no-one seems convinced that the final chapter in this story has been written. And it hasn’t. The board of directors of Dow Jones met with its investment banking advisors to discuss the News Corp bid and assess the possibility for that a rival bidder would emerge, the Financial Times.
Goldman Sachs, which is advising Dow Jones, was expected to give the full board an update on the News Corp bid.
Goldman bankers were also expected to focus on an assessment of whether other media groups or private equity investors would come forward with a rival bid.
People close to Mr Murdoch said he had not heard back from the Bancrofts on Wednesday about his requests for a meeting in the next two to three weeks.
The talk of rival bids has so far been just speculative. One provocative guess seems to be the publisher of the Financial Times, Pearson. This would be a kind of market jujitsu, with Pearson defying calls that it shed its trophy media asset—the FT— and acquiring another. Various other media companies and private groups have been named as possibilities. Both by Deal Journal and Business Week have produced their own lists of possible suitors.
But one highly experienced mergers and acquisitions specialist we spoke with believes that rival bids are unlikely. News Corp’s initial bid included a huge premium, and valued the company at such an extraordinary earnings multiple, that it seems almost designed to scare away competition. What’s more, it’s not clear that any other media company stands to reap the synergistic benefits that available to News Corp—which is planning on launching a cable business news channel.
“Murdoch doesn’t make a bid like this unless he thinks he’s going to win,” a source familiar with News Corp’s mergers and acquisitions practice told DealBreaker. “He’s not kidding around with this. I’m not sure there are a lot of other folks eager to step into the ring with Rupert and try to grab this thing out of his hands, either.”
Dow Jones board meets bankers [Financial Times]