That's assuming there is a battle. Some members and trustees of the Bancroft family, Dow Jones' controlling shareholders, say they plan to vote against the stunning News Corp. bid of $5 billion. Even so, the genie could be out of the bottle. Yes, the Bancrofts control Dow Jones through their Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting power of the company's common stock. But Gary Lutin, a shareholder advisor, said that the Bancrofts "need to consider their fiduciary responsibilities as controlling shareholders to look out for the interests of non-controlling public shareholders." And let's face it, a 67 percent premium on the price of DJ stock is hard to ignore - at least among the common stockholders. (Getting the deal past regulators could be another story.)
But let's just assume DJ is in play, whether it's Rupert or some other suitor. Who might the players be? WSJ's Deal Journal offers some possibilities. Among the more likely candidates: the Wash. Post Co. (a Bancroft fav), Thomson, GE (it has a big stake in the outcome because of DJ's ties to CNBC), and Pearson (owner of the Financial Times). Less likely candidates: Bloomberg (why mess around with success?), NYT (too many problems with its current shareholders over its own two-tier shares), private equity firms (not much interest in newspapers), and Reuters (lacking Murdoch's financial heft).