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Murdoch Sends Letter To Persuade Bancrofts on DJ Bid; Assures Editorial Independence

Updated: The Bancrofts had a family conference call and are still not impressed, reports WSJ again. During the call, family lawyers and reps of Merrill Lynch & Co., the investment bank advising the Bancrofts, gave a presentation and discussed what had transpired since News Corp.’s initial offer and the commitments outlined in Murdoch’s most recent letter, the story says.

Rupert Murdoch, possibly sensing little interest in his $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, has sent a 1200-word letter to Bancroft family members over the weekend, reports WSJ. He did not raise the $60 a share bid, but did outline these moves:
— Offered to add a Bancroft family member to News Corp.’s 15-member board if the deal goes through.
— Will establish an independent editorial board to ensure the editorial integrity of WSJ and Dow Jones’s other editorial operations.
— The board would mirror the one he set up at the London Times after News Corp. acquired that paper in 1981. Approval would be required to either appoint or fire the editor of WSJ.
— News Corp. would keep current management in place, and put money into expanding Washington bureau to bolster political coverage, improve the newspaper’s NYC headquarters and invest in its international operations.
— News Corp would leverage its global brands to drive international growth and expansion of the DJ and WSJ brands.
Will invest in digital media and utilize News Corp’s capabilities to extend the reach.

Murdoch’s rather impassioned plea: “Much has been written about me, my family and our company, some flattering, some not; some accurate, most not. Please let me assure you that, first and foremost, I am a newspaper man. I don’t apologize for the fact that I have always had strong opinions and strong ideas about newspapers; but I have also always respected the independence and integrity of the news organizations with which I am associated.”

The full text of the letter is here. Also, Robert Thomson, editor of the Times of London, also sent a letter to Jim Ottaway, of Ottaway Newspapers explaining the proposed deal. Ottway’s family controls about 6.2 percent of Dow Jones’s supervoting shares, and has publicly opposed any such deal.

WSJ has a special section on the bid, outlining their coverage…our coverage is here on our dedicated Dow Jones page.

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