U.S. News

Dow Jones Shareholder Voices Opposition to News Corp. Offer: WSJ


Jim Ottaway Jr., a former Dow Jones executive and board member whose family is one of the company's largest shareholders, has voiced his fierce opposition to News Corp.'s $60-a-share offer to acquire Dow Jones, according to a report in that company's paper, the Wall Street Journal.

Ottaway owns or controls about 6.2% of Dow Jones Class B super-voting shares. He retired from the Dow Jones board last year and retired from the company in 2003 as senior vice president of the company and chairman of its Ottaway Newspapers unit. Dow Jones acquired the Ottaway unit in 1970.

According to the report, Ottaway was very critical of Rupert Murdoch in his comments, saying Murdoch and News Corp. will put business interests and political biases before editorial principle.

So far, the News Corp.'s $5 billion acquisition proposal has been rejected by Dow Jones' controlling shareholder, the Bancroft family.

According to the Journal, News Corp. responded to Ottaway's criticism by saying it was based on "misconceptions and cliches."

"We're disappointed in Mr. Ottaway's comments, which unfortunately are based on tired misconceptions and cliches," a News Corp. spokesman said, according to the paper's report. "The company would be happy to meet with Mr. Ottaway to share with him how we will enhance the journalistic independence and integrity of Dow Jones, while reinvesting in its properties to help it achieve its greatest potential.”

Last week, Murdoch said he would take steps to maintain the Wall Street Journal's editorial independence and invest in journalism if Dow Jones approves the deal. Reports said Murdoch was planning to take his case for buying Dow Jones to the Bancrofts and the newsroom of the flagship paper.

The Faber Report: DJ Update

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.

On Friday, the Bancrofts said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they planned to vote shares constituting slightly more than 50% of the outstanding voting power against the New Corp. bid.