Bancroft Family Elder'sThumbs Down to Murdoch's WSJ Offer

24 May 2007

NEW YORK: The Bancroft dynasty that controls media group Dow Jones and its flagship title, The Wall Street Journal, met yesterday (Wednesday) to further scrutinize the finer points of Rupert Murdoch's $5 billion (€3.68bn; £2.51bn) offer for the company.

The bid, revealed and initially rejected three weeks ago [WARC News: 02-May-07], has split the 35-strong clan, many of whom are worried that News Corporation ownership would compromise editorial integrity - a fear Murdoch has attempted to assuage.

Seven China-based Wall Street Journal editorial staff have written to the Bancrofts claiming the media mogul has stifled criticism of the Chinese regime in a bid to further his business interests in the country, a claim NewsCorp has rebuffed.

Despite such widespread misgivings, however, some family members are reportedly eager to meet Murdoch for talks.

    Following the meeting an influential member of the Bancroft family, Dallas-area businessman Christopher Bancroft, made his first public comments on the News Corporation bid.

    "I'm open to any situation that benefits The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones and its shareholders. At the moment, I don't see anything that would do that," he said.

    As a trustee of the family's fortune and as one of Dow Jones's sixteen directors, Bancroft's views hold considerable sway. He and his two siblings control about one-third of the Bancroft clan's stake in Dow.

    He has hitherto been seen by some in the Murdoch camp as a potential swing vote able to steer the family in the deal's favor.

    Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff