Feature

Business columns: Getting the last laugh on Murdoch

It looks like Rupert Murdoch overpaid the Bancrofts for Dow Jones by about $3.5 billion, said Jeff Bercovici<em> </em>in<em> Portfiolio.com.</em>

Jeff BercoviciPortfiolio.com

It appears that Rupert Murdoch finally may have met his match, said Jeff Bercovici. The conventional wisdom holds that Murdoch’s News Corp. won control of The Wall Street Journal and its publisher, Dow Jones Co., by exploiting divisions within the “dysfunctional” Bancroft family, which controlled Dow Jones. By cannily manipulating various family factions, the story went, Murdoch was able to waltz off with the Journal for $5 billion. But now it appears that the Bancrofts were “dysfunctional like a fox.” A new analysis by Rob Cox and Lauren Silva on the financial website BreakingViews.com estimates the current market value of Dow Jones, taking into account the rapid crumbling of the newspaper business. Their most “charitable” estimate is that a freestanding Dow Jones would be worth, at most, $1.5 billion. Which means that Murdoch overpaid “those poor, feckless Bancrofts” by about $3.5 billion. “Now, no one’s suggesting that the Bancrofts’ public disharmony was a facade calculated to goad Murdoch into making a preposterously large pre-emptory offer.” But you have to wonder who outfoxed whom.

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