Friday, June 29, 2007

The Bancrofts--in need of a "best alternative," apparently

Hot on the heels of yesterday's podcast, which encouraged anyone contemplating a negotiation to spend time formulating and agreeing on a Plan B--a "best alternative to a negotiated agreement"--comes today's latest news on the saga of the Bancroft family and their response to Rupert Murdoch's $5B offer to buy their family business, Dow Jones.

The Wall Street Journal (a Dow Jones subsidiary) features a story on one family member, Leslie Hill, who, after growing disenchanted with the Murdoch negotiation, has gone off on a road trip in search of investors to present as an alternative ("Bancroft Heir Pursues Alternative To Murdoch" - link - $$).

This after other potential suitors (including Pearson/GE, which appeared to be different but not necessarily better for the Journal's editorial excellence than Murdoch) have contemplated bids but backed away.

The Journal also reports that the Dow Jones board did not even prepare a "book"--an overview of the business and its prospects for potential bidders.

In sum, the Journal's board and the Bancrofts were caught unprepared by the Murdoch bid, despite (as Ken Auletta reports in this week's New Yorker) family members learning informally of Murdoch's intentions in late 2006, months before Murdoch's proposal to Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino over breakfast this March 29.

There were months of time available for the Bancrofts and the Dow Jones board to have formulated a strategy, including a "best alternative." They chose not to.

Do you think there's a chance in hell that Murdoch won't win this negotiation?