The family that controls
says it's open to meeting with unsolicited bidder
and other possible buyers.
The comment opens the door to a possible sale of the big newspaper publisher and seems to abandon the controlling family's stay-the-course stance. Shares jumped $7.69 early Friday to $61.
The news comes a month after News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch shocked Wall Street and the newspaper world by hatching a $60-a-share offer for the New York-based publisher of
The Wall Street Journal
. The $5 billion bid was 67% above the previous trading price of Dow Jones shares, but was quickly met with a statement by members of the Bancroft family, which controls Dow Jones, that holders who held a majority of the votes opposed a deal.
Speculation has been that the family opposed selling to Murdoch, who runs a fleet of tabloids across the world as well as the Fox movie and news operations. But the family's latest statement, issued Thursday after a special meeting of the Dow Jones board, indicates the Bancrofts are at least open to discussing all alternatives.
News of the discussions revived Dow Jones shares, which had flagged since the first days after the Murdoch bid was announced as skepticism grew about whether the family would sell.
"As we have been since 1902, the Bancroft Family remains resolute in its commitment to preserve and protect the editorial independence and integrity of The Wall Street Journal, as well as the leadership, strength and vitality of The Journal and all of the other publications and services of Dow Jones," the family said in its statement Thursday evening.
"Since first receiving the News Corporation proposal, the Family has carefully considered and discussed among ourselves and with our advisors how best to achieve that overarching objective, while serving the best interests of the Company's various constituencies.
"After a detailed review of the business of Dow Jones and the evolving competitive environment in which it operates, the Family has reached consensus that the mission of Dow Jones may be better accomplished in combination or collaboration with another organization, which may include News Corporation.
"Accordingly, the Family has advised the Company's Board that it intends to meet with News Corporation to determine whether, in the context of the current or any modified News Corporation proposal, it will be possible to ensure the level of commitment to editorial independence, integrity and journalistic freedom that is the hallmark of Dow Jones.
"The Family also indicated its receptivity to other options that might achieve the same overarching objective."