The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week
1. Pigs Get Slaughtered
The road to a Dow Jones (DJ) buyout is getting muddy.
The Bancroft family that controls the New York-based publisher met Monday with News Corp. (NWS) chief Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, who has long coveted The Wall Street Journal, has launched a $5 billion takeover bid. Critics fret that Murdoch would trample the Journal's integrity in his headlong pursuit of business opportunities.
The Bancrofts seem to have put some of those fears aside. Murdoch called the talks "constructive," and someone close to him described the four-hour meeting as "different proposals being bandied about."But the bandying was only beginning. First, a union that represents some Dow Jones workers enlisted billionaire investor Ron Burkle as a partner in a possible deal. With his deep pockets and political connections, Burkle at least has the stature to be taken seriously. It's not clear if the same can be said about longtime public relations honcho Brian Tierney, who said this week he too would like to join the fray. "If there was a formalized bidding process," Tierney said, "it would be our intention to participate." Of course, intentions only go so far with Tierney. He heads up a group that took over Philadelphia's Inquirer and Daily News last June for $562 million. Tierney made all the usual noises about sharpening coverage and redeploying scarce resources. "We don't need a Jerusalem bureau," he told The Washington Post. "What we need are more people in the South Jersey bureau." But what the Inquirer got was fewer people everywhere. Just six months after taking over, Tierney set plans to cut newsroom staffing by 17%. That's not to say his reign has been a failure. Earlier this year, Tierney's papers celebrated an unexpected monthly circulation bounce with a publicity stunt memorialized by a special pullout section in the Inquirer. "Pigs Fly!" reads a headline above a picture of pigs flying past the newspaper's building. "Daily readership soars with high-flying swine." Maybe Murdoch isn't the pigheaded one after all. Dumb-o-Meter score: 93. Dow Jones is just wallowing in high-quality offers lately.
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