Skip to main content

The Meeting: What Will Rupert Do? What Do the Bancrofts Want?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Somewhere behind the sheer, black façade rising 38 stories from a sunken plaza on 52nd Street and the Avenue of the America, representatives from News Corp are expected to meet with representatives from the Bancroft family today. Inside the building—officially the CBS Building but known to neighbors as the “big black rock”— are the offices of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the law firm retained by the family that controls 64 percent of the voting power of the Dow Jones & Company.
The twin questions asked by those of us outside the tower are: what do the Bancrofts want and what will Rupert Murdoch give them? Murdoch, who heads News Corp, has offered sixty dollars per share for Dow Jones, a sixty-seven percent premium from where the stock had been trading before the takeover bid was announced. He has also offered the Bancroft family and the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Dow Jones, both flattery and autonomous editorial board for the Wall Street Journal. He has also compared his own family to the Bancrofts, referring to both as newspaper families. Newspapers have described this as a “charm offensive.” What he hasn’t done is indicate that he might be willing to pay even more for the company.
This morning we’ve also heard another thing Murdoch won’t do: cede control of that autonomous editorial board to the Bancroft family. Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Murdoch has said the board would comprise "people with absolutely no business connections to me nor the family." Echoing a famous line about having cake and eating it, Murdoch reportedly said the family "can't sell [Dow Jones] and keep it" by controlling the editorial board.
Murdoch May Make Concessions, Up to a Limit, in Dow Jones Talks [Wall Street Journal]
Murdoch May Use `Charm Offensive' on Bancroft Family [Bloomberg]