David Lieberman of USA Today writes Monday that the Bancroft family that controls Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, is now seen on the defensive since it has agreed to meet with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch to discuss his bid to buy the company.
Lieberman wrote, “‘The Bancroft family’s idea of just say no (to Murdoch) was relatively naÃ¯ve because the clock is ticking on this business as a public entity,’ says Gamco Investors portfolio manager Lawrence Haverty. ‘It becomes worth less and less each day largely because they haven’t succeeded in either Asia or Europe, and the newspaper is steadily losing ground every month.’
“Even so, it could take time for the drama to play out. The Bancrofts will need to prove that they’ve considered all options before selling to someone who has sometimes been as polarizing as Murdoch.
“The News Corp. chief also likely will wait until the last possible moment if he decides to sweeten his offer. There’s also a question of how he might do so.
“‘The bigger issue will be not whether someone comes out of the woodwork to top this bid, which I think is pretty remote, but whether Mr. Murdoch tries to sweeten the bid just for the Bancrofts’ and not all shareholders, Coffee says. ‘He hasn’t suggested it yet because it would add a lot of controversy. But it is possible.'”
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