The decision by Dow Jones' board to take no action on the $60 a share takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. might seem to be a blow to Murdoch's chances.
But it's not. In fact, the Dow Jones board has given News Corp. what it needs most: time.
Time to try and win the hearts and minds of the controlling Bancroft family, a vast majority of which doesn't appear supportive of News Corp's bid.
That could change. And Murdoch and his advisors are working hard to do just that. But it's not an easy process. Rounding up various members of the Bancroft family--which includes a teacher, a carpenter, a real estate contractor and farmer among many other professions--is like herding cats.
And even discerning their intentions is not easy. But Murdoch is nothing if not tenacious and patient. And the many phone calls being made by him and on his behalf to members of the Bancroft family are designed to transmit one clear idea--that Murdoch will be a worthy steward of the franchise they hold dear: the Wall Street Journal.
It seems likely that at some point, if given the chance, Murdoch may offer some sort of mechanism that can give the Bancroft's comfort that the editorial integrity of the Journal will not be violated under Murdoch control. And if Murdoch feels he is close to victory, it would seem likely he's got some more money to send him over the top.
It still may prove something of an uphill battle and and its a battle taking place in uncharted waters. The Bancrofts are controlling owners who have nothing to do with the management of the company they control. And their interests are being represented in part by one man, Michael Elefante, who is both a trustee for many of the Bancroft's voting shares and a director of Dow Jones.
Elefante, who has not returned calls, has a strange role. He has a fiduciary duty to all Dow shareholders, but is also a trustee for some some but not all the Bancrofts.
Yet he's also trying to coral all the Bancroft's into telling him their views so he can report back to the board.