Though it has been in talks for a takeover by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, Dow Jones & Co has received alternate bids from US supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle and internet entrepreneur Brad Greenspan.
Ron Burkle and Brad Greenspan are said to have presented a range of alternatives to Rupert Murdoch's $60 per share offer for Dow Jones & Co., but the financial computation is far from over.
Burkle and Greenspan had met with members of Dow Jones' board committee in New York late yesterday afternoon to jointly discuss the possibility of a rival bid. (See: Potential new bidders meet Dow Jones) from over.
The Bancroft family that controls 64 per cent of the voting shares in Dow Jones has the option to choose an outright sale to News Corp. for more than $5 billion or a partial sale to an investment group that would maintain its independence.
Unhappy with a possible merger with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the employees of Dow Jones has been keen to rope in other investors to make a possible bid. The main union at Dow Jones that represents some 2,000 employees, the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees (IAPE), had said an unnamed internet entrepreneur and a Wall Street group were considering putting up a rival bid.
The union had held talks with Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. about a bid and had earlier named Burkle, who had made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the Tribune last year. (See: Dow Jones likely to attract a bid from rival groups) The unions had also met with legendary investor Warren Buffett for a possible take over offer, who declined the invitation.
Steven Yount, president of IAPE, said "The bottom line is we are waiting for the family."
Murdoch's offer of $60-a-share offer, 65 per cent premium to the company's share price before Dow Jones made the bid public, prices Dow Jones' equity at $5 billion, and including net debt would value the company at $5.5 billion.
Analysts suggest that at current levels the buyer would have to come up with an upfront payment of $1.5 billion to justify a deal.
Some analysts suggest $4 billion as a fair standalone value for Dow Jones.
In 2005, Greenspan, who previously ran Intermix Media Inc that owned MySpace.com, tried but failed, to block News Corp.from acquiring his company.
When Murdoch's bid for Dow Jones became public, Greenspan and unnamed partners offered to buy a quarter of the publisher's shares for the same $60 per share that News Corp. had offered, amounting to $1.25 billion and offered to buy an additional $250 million in shares to provide capital for new media ventures.
Before the Tuesday meeting with representatives of Dow Jones' board and the Bancrofts, Greenspan said the publisher could greatly expand revenues through traditional and Internet video.
Without disclosing the identity Greenspan said one of hios partners in the $1.25-billion offer to buy a quarter of Dow Jones was a "traditional, non-internet" video carriage company that could help to develop a broadcast network. Greenspan also says that companies in his current portfolio have developed internet video platforms that could aid with online efforts.
He also said that he would also open up the WSJ.com web site by providing more free content. "Right now, one of the big problems is people are bouncing off the wall," he said, explaining that readers who are drawn to the site through searches or other means are unable to view content. He added that the web site would also have some premium services that would require a subscription, though his strategy would be to rely more on advertising.