According to a story in the Wall Street Journal New York print edition, a committee of Dow Jones’s board is expected to meet Tuesday with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, who has expressed interest in teaming with Dow Jones’s union to find alternatives to the $60-a-share offer from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps.
No offer has been made, but the negotiations are part of the Bancroft family’s concerns about editorial integrity of their well respected news organization. The family controls 64%of the companies votes and has been divided amongst themselves. The committee is made up of three independent directors, the family’s lead trustee and Dow Jones Chief Executive Richard F. Zannino.
Mr. Burkle is thought to be exploring a structure for Dow Jones that would incorporate an employee stock ownership plan, according to people close to him. All this comes during a week long process of due diligence between Dow Jones and News Corps.
Susan Pulliam of the Wall Street Journal writes, “One issue in the negotiations between News Corp. and Dow Jones has been Dow Jones’s contract with General Electric Co.’s CNBC business-news channel. Dow Jones has a contract to provide CNBC with content in the U.S. through 2012 — a commitment that could prove a stumbling block to News Corp.’s plans to use the Journal brand in its plans for a new, rival business channel. People close to News Corp. said the terms of the CNBC contract are more onerous than they anticipated, but people close to Dow Jones said evolving technologies, such as online video, make the terms of the contract open-ended, and leave some wiggle room in its interpretation.”
If Dow Jones is going to give-up control of their company for the proposed $5 billion, at least they are going to do so with a revering nod to the passing ideal of journalistic integrity.