Bancrofts Fight It Out In Boston

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A Bancroft wrangle over NewsCorp’s bid for Dow Jones ended in stalemate yesterday after emotional harangues from opposing factions, the Wall Street Journal reports. The meeting, in the Boston Hilton was so grueling that, “after four hours of discussion, family members were so hungry that they made do with a tray of stale danishes.”

Interviews with more than a dozen family members, outside advisers, lawyers and others involved in the process suggest that the outcome remains too close to call. What has seemed to many analysts like a logical move -- accepting a $60-a-share bid for a company whose shares previously had been trading in the mid-30s -- is still in question amid the deep emotions the bid has stirred. Participants said more doubts about a News Corp. deal were apparent at the end of the six-hour session than at the beginning.

On several occasions Bancrofts “held back tears” as they extolled the merits of an independent editorial board. One prominent Rupe resister, Jane Cox MacElree, seemed even to make the distressing “Daniel-Pearle-would-have-wanted-it-this-way” argument. Another opposing force claimed that the company was worth more than Murdoch’s offer of $60-a-share and that the family shouldn’t accept anything below $66.
Although only 30% of the Bancrofts’ voting power must endorse Murdoch’s proposal for it to go through, investors are becoming increasingly unsure that the deal is a sure thing, Dow stock is currently trading at $54.01, down from as high as $61.20 in June.
It looks like the interminable saga will continue for now, maybe even into August.
Relative Uncertainty [Wall Street Journal]

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