Dow Jones Family Agrees to Parley With Murdoch

01 June 2007

NEW YORK: The 'what have we got to lose' faction has gained the upper hand within Dow Jones' controlling Bancroft clan. As a result, family representatives agreed to meet with Rupert Murdoch to discuss his $5 billion (€3.72bn; £2.53bn) bid for the company and - in particular - its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal.

Following Thursday's meeting of the Dow Jones board, a family representative stated: "After a detailed review of the business of Dow Jones and the evolving competitive environment in which it operates, the family has reached consensus that the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include NewsCorp."

Industry observers homed in on those last four words - an indication that the Bancroft's are prepared to listen to other well-padded wallets.

In addition, the Bancrofts declared their intention to (or pay lip service to) determining whether "it will be possible to ensure the level of commitment to editorial independence, integrity and journalistic freedom that is the hallmark of Dow Jones'".

According to the spokesman, the family would also be receptive "to other options that might achieve the same overarching objectives."

His assurance is unlikely to assuage the concerns of many within Dow Jones, not least the WSJ's editorial staff who fear for their future autonomy and probity under a Murdoch banner.

But despite the Bancrofts' claim to retain an option not to sell, ethics and integrity are not the fuel that fires the stock market. News of the family's decision drove up Dow Jones stock by 12% in after-hours trading last night.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff