Murdoch woos family controlling Dow Jones

Published June 5, 2007

NEW YORK - Rupert Murdoch stepped up his campaign to woo the family that controls Dow Jones & Co. on Monday, meeting with key members of the Bancroft family in person to offer assurances that the Wall Street Journal would continue its long tradition of excellence under his stewardship.

The family had initially rebuffed Murdoch's $5-billion offer for the company in May, but Thursday family members agreed to meet with him. In a statement, the family said it was most concerned about protecting the editorial independence and integrity of the Journal.

The union representing Dow Jones employees, which strongly opposes Murdoch's bid, said Monday it had retained financial advisers to explore alternatives to selling the company to Murdoch.

Murdoch emerged from the building late Monday afternoon and said the meeting had been long and constructive, but he did not go into detail.

Dow Jones didn't return calls seeking comment about the meeting with Murdoch, but the Journal reported Monday that the meeting, at the Bancrofts' law firm of Wachtel, Lipton in New York, would be part social gathering and part business meeting.

In addition to Murdoch, also expected to attend were Murdoch's son James, who runs British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, a company part-owned by Murdoch's News Corp. media conglomerate, as well as News Corp.'s chief financial officer and general counsel.

On the Bancroft family side, the three family members who serve on Dow Jones' board of directors were expected to attend - Chris Bancroft, Leslie Hill and Elizabeth Steele - as well as a family trustee and fellow board member Michael Elefante, Dow Jones chairman Peter McPherson and the family's lawyer Martin Lipton.

Murdoch's offer represents a huge premium of about 65 percent over Dow Jones' closing price before the deal became public.