What Everyone's Saying Today About Rupert Murdoch's Bid For Dow Jones

Today in the world's most important story: The Dow Jones board of directors chose to take no action on Murdoch's bid for their company. A voting majority oppose accepting the offer. Or do they really? Divisions in the three branches of the Bancroft family, combined with the amount News Corp. is willing to pay, may make it an offer they can't refuse. At least a few folks claim they literally may not have a choice: "a case for litigation" could be made should they turn down the bid. (Well, sorta maybe not so much, but maybe!)

As speculation continues over whether other bidders will enter the fray (latest name on the list: Google), Murdoch begins his "charm offensive" to woo reluctant Bancrofts. Those in the three branches of the family who oppose the takeover have a strong card to play: "The company's certificate of incorporation says that it has some latitude to consider the effect 'of such a transaction upon the independence and integrity of the corporation's publications and services and the social and economic effects of such actions.'" (Yesterday also brought news that the Ottaway family, who own 6.2% of the Class B shares, oppose the deal.)

Meanwhile, the Bancrofts, and Journal employees, are wondering what life would be like under Murdoch. While Murdoch's current employees claim that he's not the interfering type, former employees are a little more loquacious on the subject.

Sir Harold Evans: "'In my year as editor of the Times [of London], Murdoch broke all [the promises of independence he made when taking over the paper]'... telling a Times editor that they were 'not worth the paper they're written on.' Another example cited by Mr. Evans: Mr. Murdoch once told an editor not to worry about whether a cartoon of just-assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat was tasteful. "We want to sell newspapers. Print it!'"

Current Times of London editor Robert Thomson—who the Guardian speculates could move to the Journal (if, uh, eight million things fall the right way)—is jetting out to meet with Murdoch ahead of looming job cuts for Murdoch's News International subsidiary.

On Wall Street, rumors of insider trading are swirling around an investor who purchased 280,000 shares of Dow Jones in September, when the stock price was still at $40 a share. While MarketWatch cautions that in the world of mergers & acquisitions, a five billion dollar deal is small potatoes, a successful Murdoch bid would "mean multimillion-dollar paydays for the top managers of Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal," which is probably some consolation to those guys.

Finally, Business Week's Jon Fine, delivering a stinging rebuke to the scolds at CJR Daily, suggests that Murdoch is smart enough not to fuck up the paper. We'll see! If this thing actually happens, that is.

Yesterday: What Everyone's Saying About Rupert Murdoch's Bid For Dow Jones

[Image: NYT]