Looking for easy answers on the News Corp.-Dow Jones front? Don’t read any further because we don’t have any. Rupert Murdoch’s offer of $60 per share still stands, the stock yo-yos at the least provocation, and, so far as anyone knows, a majority of the Bancroft voting power is against a sale. Some of the moves following the overreaction earlier this week to a note from one analyst (the very smart Richard Greenfield but still just one analyst) suggesting that Murdoch would walk away within weeks without raising the bid:
WSJ: Not that there was a doubt but key shareholder and DJ director Christopher Bancroft came out publicly against the sale, explaining that a sale could endanger the WSJ’s independence. The language he used could be viewed as problematic by shareholders who see a benefit in selling stock at a premium: “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.”
Christopher Bancroft was among the family members who skipped a family meeting in Boston called to address questions about Murdoch’s proposal. (He has received some 50 letters from WSJ reporters concerned by the prospect of a sale.) He is a family trustee, a DJ director, and with two siblings, controls one-third of the voting power.
– One sore point, says the Journal: DJ’s profit funds as the Bancrofts’ annual dividend ($80 million last year) but the funds mostly go to the older generation, not their children.
Deal Journal: A Citigroup analyst suggests the option market “is pricing in a 65 percent probability that a buyout offer for Dow Jones is accepted.” That’s based on a $65 bid.