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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bancrofts Rethink Dow Jones Deal

NEW YORK -- After initially rebuffing an offer from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., the Bancroft family says it is ready to meet with the media mogul to discuss his interest in buying Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

The Bancrofts, who control the shareholder vote of Dow Jones, said in a statement late last week that after reviewing Dow Jones and the rapidly changing arena of business news and information in which it operates, "the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include News Corporation."

The family said it remained committed to preserving the newspaper's independence and integrity and were willing to meet with Murdoch to determine whether they could be assured those qualities would continue under his ownership. They also said they would consider other offers.

Despite the newspaper's prestige and tremendous clout in the business world, Dow Jones remains a relatively small company compared with large media operators such as Murdoch's News Corp. Reuters Group and Bloomberg have made huge inroads in the business of providing real-time financial news and information to investors.

Murdoch started as a newspaper owner in Australia, and today his News Corp. media conglomerate has operations across the globe, including Twentieth Century Fox, Fox News Channel, the New York Post and MySpace.

The $5 billion offer that Murdoch made for Dow Jones could easily be paid out of News Corp.'s cash stockpile.

Murdoch has said he would invest in the newspaper and ensure its editorial independence, something that the Bancroft family and employees of Dow Jones say is paramount.

The union representing employees of the newspaper has been steadfastly opposed to Murdoch's overture, saying he would likely damage the newspaper's quality and compromise its independence. Jim Ottaway Jr. a former board member who controls 5 percent of the company's voting power, has said he is also opposed to Murdoch's bid.

Like several other newspaper publishers, including The New York Times Co. and The Washington Post Co., Dow Jones is a public company but is controlled by a family through a special class of shares with powerful voting rights.

Family control, its advocates say, is intended to insulate newspapers from short-term financial demands from shareholders and to safeguard their independence and protect their mission of public service.

Murdoch has said he also understands the importance of family stewardship as his own company is controlled by him and family trusts, albeit to a lesser degree than the control exercised by the Bancrofts of Dow Jones, the New York Times' Sulzbergers and the Grahams of The Washington Post.

Also, Dow Jones has an important difference from The New York Times and The Washington Post in that no family members are currently involved with the company's day-to-day management. The Bancrofts are also numerous and geographically diverse.