Bancroft Family Weighs $5 Billion Bid for Dow Jones

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Rupert Murdoch's bid for the owner of The Wall Street Journal was still in question Monday, as the family that is the company's controlling shareholder began considering Murdoch's $5 billion offer at a meeting in Boston.

The Bancroft family is expected to decide the fate of Dow Jones & Co. within a few days.

Predicting which way the family will lean is difficult. Murdoch told The Associated Press last week at a media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, that the Bancrofts "keep changing their minds."

Some family members have been concerned about tales of corporate interference at other Murdoch-owned newspapers. They have demanded assurances that the Journal, which has been under the family's control since 1902, would be free of corporate meddling. Murdoch has said those concerns are unfounded.

Murdoch's News Corp. owns newspapers in Australia and the U.K., including The Sun and The Times of London, as well as the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Twentieth Century Fox and MySpace.

Dow Jones & Co., which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns other publications that are held in regard in the financial journalism community, including Dow Jones Newswires and Barron's.

Sentiment against Murdoch is sure to be fanned by last week's departure of Dieter von Holtzbrinck as a director of Dow Jones.

Von Holtzbrinck, whose family controls a prominent publishing company in Germany, acknowledged that Murdoch's offer is "very generous in financial terms." But von Holtzbrinck said he is "very worried" that the quality of Dow Jones' journalism would suffer under Murdoch.

Even though Dow Jones' board signed off on Murdoch's proposal without von Holtzbrinck — he was reported to have abstained from the vote — there are other signs of trouble for Murdoch.

At the same board meeting, Leslie Hill, a director who is also a Bancroft family member, also reportedly abstained, and fellow director Christopher Bancroft left the meeting early.

Other members of the Bancroft family are Elizabeth Steele, president of a real estate development company in Vermont, and Michael Elefante, who is not a blood relative of the family but is its lead trustee and a member of Hemenway & Barnes, a Boston-based law firm that is the family's longtime trust adviser. It is not known what they think of the Murdoch offer.

After the initial meeting Monday in Boston, the family is expected to take several days to consider Murdoch's bid. If enough of them commit to endorsing a deal, the process moves to final approval by the boards of Dow Jones and News Corp., the global media conglomerate that Murdoch controls.

From NPR and The Associated Press reports

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