Boston’s Legal Firm At The Center Of Wall Street Journal Takeover It…

Boston’s Legal Firm At The Center Of Wall Street Journal Takeover
It’s not ‘Boston Legal’s’ Crane, Poole and Schmidt, but nevertheless Boston’s patrician and private law firm of Hemenway & Barnes has moved center stage in the battle for control of the Wall Street Journal’s owners, Down Jones & Co.

The fate of Dow Jones & Co. and its flagship newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, lies in the hands of a patrician New England family that has shunned hands-on management and has instead entrusted much of its legacy to powerful but discreet Boston lawyers.

The Bancrofts, heirs to the controlling stock of Dow Jones, have a $5 billion offer for their company from media magnate Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. The family indicated Tuesday that it is not interested, and late yesterday the Dow Jones board said it would not act on the offer.

But that has not dampened speculation about a possible sale, which has continued to buoy Dow Jones stock since it jumped 55 percent on Tuesday.

The Bancroft heirs, who collectively own stock that would be worth about $1.2 billion if the Murdoch offer were accepted, have occasionally been divided on the question of how best to manage their Dow Jones holdings. While the heirs are scattered about the country and engaged in their own endeavors, the center of their financial power has remained in Boston, with the law firm of , on State Street, which will probably play a major role in their final decision .

With about 30 lawyers engaged in trust and estate law, Hemenway & Barnes has a catch phrase — “A Wealth of Experience” — that neatly describes its niche: managing old money.

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