At least one
director wasn't lured in by Rupert Murdoch's billions.
Dieter von Holtzbrinck, the heir of a Germany-based publishing empire, resigned from Dow Jones' board Thursday in protest of the company's embrace of a $5 billion buyout offer from Murdoch's media empire,
In a letter disclosed in a regulatory filing from Dow Jones on Thursday, von Holtzbrinck said he's concerned that
The Wall Street Journal
publisher's journalistic standards will be in jeopardy in the event of a sale to Murdoch. Von Holtzbrinck, who was one of 16 Dow Jones board members, abstained from a vote Tuesday in which a majority of the directors endorsed the sale to Murdoch.
"Although I'm convinced that News Corp.'s offer is very generous in financial terms, I'm very worried that Dow Jones' unique journalistic values will long-term strongly suffer after the proposed sale," he said. "Listening to our lawyers, one has to vote for a deal which is in the best (financial) interest for the shareholders, except if one can prove that such deal bears risks for the company that overcompensate the financial profits."
Von Holtzbrinck went on to note News Corp.'s journalistic track record, which has tended to infuse Murdoch's political views and business interests into its news coverage -- a practice that runs counter to the editorial practices at Dow Jones.
He also cited a letter published by Jim Ottaway, a controlling Dow Jones shareholder who as been an outspoken critic of Murdoch's offer.
Concerns over Murdoch's journalistic standards have been a major issue in terms of evaluating the deal, but News Corp. and Dow Jones executives have hammered out an agreement to form an independent committee meant to safeguard the integrity of the
and other publications.
"I do not believe that the 'Special Committee' can finally prevent Murdoch from doing what he wants to do, from acting his way," von Holtzbrinck said in the letter, which was translated by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
Von Holtzbrinck joined the Dow Jones board in 2001, the year he retired from the helm of the publishing empire he inherited. The company publishes German newspapers like
. It has also published works from a number of literary giants, from Ernest Hemingway to Salman Rushdie.
The resignation comes as Murdoch's offer to buy Dow Jones faces its final, and perhaps its highest, hurdle: approval from the Bancroft family, which controls the publisher through a dual-class share structure.
The Bancrofts are reportedly torn on the offer, with some family members struggling with the same concerns that von Holtzbrinck cited in his letter. They will be presented with the final details of the deal on Monday and then they will have several days to come to a decision.
reported that two representatives from the Bancroft family who hold seats on the board of directors, Christopher Bancroft and Leslie Hill, also abstained from the vote in a move that amounted to a "no" vote. Christopher Bancroft reportedly left the board meeting where the vote was held early.
Meanwhile, another board member, Bank of East Asia Chairman and CEO David Li, is facing a probable lawsuit from the SEC in connection with an insider trading probe into the events surrounding News Corp.'s offer. He has denied the allegations.