Dow Jones: NewsCorp Moves in for the Kill

18 July 2007

NEW YORK: Circling its prey since April, the Great White Shark of News Corporation last night moved in for the kill, jaws agape in anticipation of feasting on The Wall Street Journal and its publisher Dow Jones.

At a three-hour meeting Tuesday evening, Dow's board agreed to accept NewsCorp's $5 billion (€3.63bn; £2.44bn) acquisition offer. The vote, however, was not unanimous.

Of the four Bancroft family directors with seats on the board, two - Boston lawyer Michael Elefante who presides over many of the Bancroft trusts, and Elizabeth Steele - voted to accept the offer.

A third, Christopher Bancroft, did not vote and left the meeting early; while the fourth, Lisa Hill, abstained. Another abstainer was Dow director Dieter von Holtzbrinck.

In a formal statement Dow said the board is "prepared to approve and recommend" Murdoch's proposal to Dow shareholders "including the Bancroft family stockholders".

The recommendation will likely lead to the Momma and Poppa of all family feuds. As an entity, there is no certainty as to which way the clan will vote and there are broad public divisions among its 35-strong adult members.

Crucially, their shares can be voted individually rather than en bloc - a fact the gives some hope to the 'divide and rule' faction. Not least lawyer Elefante who is said to wield considerable influence among the kinsfolk.

According to insiders, he will brief the Bancrofts on the offer later this week.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff