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The enemy of my enemy is my friend … the old saying came to mind when I first heard that entrepreneur Brad Greenspan might be teaming with Charlie Ergen’s EchoStar to bid for Dow Jones. Both Greenspan and Ergen have had losing run-ins with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. WSJ reported earlier this week that, with Ergen’s support, Greenspan was considering a raised bid that would cover half the company; his first offer, backed by unidentified investors, only covered 25 percent through a Dutch auction matching News Corp.’s $60 per share. That initial proposal is the one still posted on his site.
Now the Journal is reporting on a joint meeting Greenspan and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle had with the DJ board today; according to “people familiar with the matter,” the two were asked to meet together with the ad hoc committee handling the sale but the details are murky. Burkle has expressed interest in an ESOP(employee stock-ownership plan); Greenspan is proposing with EchoStar to acquire 50 percent, partially through a stock buyback, and to invest $250 million to expand web video capability.
“Dubious” may be the most charitable word some have for the idea of either or both as DJ white knights. Even former DJ CEO Peter Kann told the Journal he preferred Murdoch over “industrial conglomerates, Internet entrepreneurs, supermarket magnates and real estate developers. None know anything at all about journalism.” His theory: “As to Mr. Murdoch, at least he loves newspapers, presumably would invest in the WSJ and Dow Jones, and would seem to have little incentive to tarnish a trophy he has coveted for so long.”
Next up: The family’s reps are scheduled to meet with DJ advisers Wednesday to discuss the potential for other options. That could pave the way for a possible agreement in principle with News Corp. this week although, as the Journal warns, that doesn’t mean a final agreement can be reached. It’s still in the Bancrofts’ court — unless Murdoch decides to take his ball and go home.
You can catch up on the whole saga through our WSJ-DJ archive.
Update: AP: Burkle and Greenspan “are exploring the possibility of combining forces.” AP’s source “asked not to be named because the discussion was in an early, exploratory phase.”
— Reuters: Burkle and Greenspan presented “at least one idea for a possible transaction,” according the Reuters’ source.