Rob Cox of BreakingViews.com writes in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that the legendary M&A attorney Martin Lipton seems to have lost his edge when it came to offering advice to the Bancroft family that controls Dow Jones & Co., the parent of TheÂ Journal, in its negotiations with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Cox wrote, “Yet rather than mandating the board to conduct an auction, the Bancrofts wasted more weeks haggling directly with Mr. Murdoch over The Wall Street Journal’s editorial independence — during which time they made some extravagant demands to which the media mogul clearly couldn’t agree.
“By the time the dossier was finally handed to the board June 20, there was little chance of getting an auction going. The very next day, General Electric and Pearson — the best hopes for a white knight — pulled out of the bidding. Michael Elefante, a senior Hemenway & Barnes partner who serves as the Bancroft’s lead trustee and represents them on Dow Jones’s board, declined to comment.
“Again, it isn’t clear what advice Mr. Lipton has given the Bancrofts. It may simply be that no bidder can come close to matching Mr. Murdoch’s $5 billion offer. But the family’s tactics don’t seem to have left the Dow Jones board in a particularly strong position to negotiate for more money from Mr. Murdoch, even if they have persuaded him to make some concessions on editorial independence.”
Read more here.