Monday, June 4, 2007

Is Dow Jones’s Union Pursuing an ESOP?

New York Times

Even as the Bancroft family finally sat down with Rupert Murdoch on Monday, it appeared other players in the Dow Jones saga were trying to take matters into their own hands — possibly literally.

Also on Monday, the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, the union that represents Dow Jones employees, said in a statement that it had retained advisers to seek out potential white knights for the company, which is considering a $5 billion bid from Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation. But the union’s choice of adviser was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the announcement.

From the union’s statement:

IAPE believes that the best safeguard to the independence and integrity of Dow Jones would be the continued stewardship of the Bancroft Family, but if the Family is persuaded that a sale of Dow Jones is necessary, IAPE believes that there are alternatives to Mr. Murdoch. We are hopeful that the Bancroft Family, with its long-standing commitment to the integrity of Dow Jones, will consider these alternatives.

Union president Steve Yount said that the group was working with Ownership Associates, a Cambridge, Mass. firm that specializes in employee stock ownership plans. That’s the same method by which Tribune agreed to go private earlier this year, in a deal led by the billionaire real estate investor Samuel Zell.

Ownership Associates is no stranger to advising newspapers. The firm says that it partnered with the investment bank Duff & Phelps to help several Knight Ridder newspaper staffs explore the possibility of ESOP buyouts. (That may be of little comfort to Dow Jones employees, as this Editor & Publisher story notes.)

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