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Ouch. The Bancrofts are giving trust-fund indolence a bad name ($):

But Mr. Murdoch's bid has prompted the family to focus on what Dow Jones's future might be as a stand-alone entity without a deep-pocketed partner. So the idea of taking some form of action, such as seeking a third-party investor, is gaining momentum.

While some Bancrofts, especially younger ones, are open to exploring other alternatives, the family is far from reaching a consensus on what course to take, according to people familiar with the matter. [Emph added]

"Third-party investors"? "Alternatives"? What do these people have in mind, exactly? Newspaper publishers aren't exactly being taken out at premium prices lately. The recent Tribune sale, for instance, is basically a tax shelter for Sam Zell with printing presses attached. The Knight-Ridder transaction has been a disaster. Yoo-hoo, Bancrofts! There are no other alternatives.

The offer the family has in hand, meanwhile, is idiotically generous. Not only does Rupert Murdoch propose to pay a price for the family's stock that no one else in his right mind will even think of coming close to matching, he plans to invest heavily in the business once he gets control--something that current management simply can't do.

As the Journal itself reports, the company essentially pays out everything it earns in dividends to the family. There's nothing left over for what's known, in businesses other than newspapering, as "reinvestment." Which is why the Wall Street Journal Asia has gotten downsized to tabloidsville, and why the Wall Street Journal Europe clunks along with a circulation in Europe that's roughly one third the Financial Times'. Oh, and the U.S. version of the Journal now looks like an overgrown supermarket shopper. It doesn't help that, as more than one observer has pointed out ($), the company is run by what appears to be one of the sleepier managements in a business not exactly famous for its business smarts.

P.S.: I can see why the sleepwalkers among the Bancrofts are too dim to see the virtue of the News Corp. offer, but for the life of me, what are the journalists who work at Dow Jones, who seem to be pushing hard for the status quo, thinking? Here's the deal: status quo equals fewer and fewer newspaper jobs at Dow Jones in the future; Murdoch buyout means considerably more jobs. I know that journalist types don't know much about economics, but even Cindy Adams ought to be able to figure that one out...

Source: Bancrofts: By The Third Generation, The Brains Are Bred Out