According to today's New York Times, Rupert Murdoch and the Bancroft family are close to an agreement on provisions designed to protect the editorial independence of a News Corp (NYSE: NWS) controlled Wall Street Journal. With General Electric (NYSE: GE) and Pearson (NYSE: PSO) having dropped out of the Dow Jones (NYSE: DJ) sweepstakes, a sale to Murdoch seems all but inevitable. All that the Bancrofts can do now is try to put in some safeguards to prevent one of the most respected newspapers in the world from turning into a tabloid.
The exact details of the plan are not known, but it almost certainly includes some sort of independent board that will maintain editorial control over the paper.
Barring a 2004 ALCS Boston Red Sox turnaround, the Dow Jones Co. will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corp. It's really not any surprise at all. The idea that some white knight would emerge with a better offer than Murdoch's 67% premium to the company's share price prior to his bid was unrealistic. If there were other groups interested in acquiring Dow Jones, wouldn't they have come forward before the News Corp offer? I just never believed for a second that there was any chance that someone other than Murdoch would walk home with the prize.
Of course I've been wrong before, and there would be no story more exciting than an 11th hour bid for the company from someone who hasn't even been mentioned yet.