Turmoil at Dow Jones as share price flags

The US financial information group is facing a revolt over spending on Telerate, writes David Usborne in New York

More used to being a purveyor of the news rather than a subject of it, the Dow Jones company, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, is attracting shrill headlines about its flagging stock price and unrest among its shareholders.

Uncertainty about the future of the company, which also owns the Telerate global financial information service, has even led to media reports that it could be about to fall prey to one of its biggest rivals, Reuters of the UK.

The woes at Dow Jones centre on its share price which has long been stuck at around the $39 (pounds 24m) mark, well below its peak achieved 10 years ago.

The disappointing share performance has led to widely publicised sniping from two members of the Bancroft family that founded and still controls the company, William Cox III and his cousin, Elisabeth Goth.

Last week saw the sudden resignation from the company payroll of Mr Cox, who had been in charge of Dow Jones' global stock indices. While Mr Cox gave no official reason for his decision, he indicated that it would liberate him to fight for a change of direction in management.

Most urgently at issue is the fate of Telerate, which has been falling behind the rival global services of Reuters and Bloomberg. Stock of Dow Jones took a beating in late January after the company announced that it would spend $650m trying to revive the sagging service. Many investors had been hoping instead for a decision to dump Telerate.

Fortune magazine, meanwhile, recently revealed that the prominent New York money manager Michael Price has amassed 5.4 per cent of Dow Jones stock. The magazine last week tried to capitalise on its scoop by placing an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones refused to print it, however.

Mr Price has since spoken out about his disappointment with the decision to spend more money on Telerate and is expected to push for new additions to the Dow Jones board at its annual shareholders' meeting in April. "Hopefully, there will be some smart people in there," he said.

There has been no confirmation, however, of Reuters or any other competitor exploring a hostile buyout. Members of the Bancroft family, Mr Cox included, have declared themselves unified in wishing to keep the company independent. "I would like to see Dow Jones independent, but the best way to do that is to good corporate governance," Mr Cox remarked.

Of his own decision to quit his post, Mr Cox commented: "I think that it's the right route. It's difficult to work at the company and try to get better shareholder value." He added: "Obviously Michael Price is there and others are there because it's an underpriced stock."

Taking the heat in the dispute is the current chairman of Dow Jones, Peter Kann. A former Pulitzer Prize recipient and famed Vietnam war reporter, Mr Kann may be under pressure in April to spin off Telerate and cut the company's losses in it. There is no expectation, however, that his own position is at risk.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own