Way back in the early 70’s, when I was pretending to be an investment banker in New York, I met with a delegation of Native Americans who were concerned about plans to construct a massive coal-fired generating plant on tribal lands. In heart-rending detail, they told me how disruptive this would be to their way of life, how insensitive the builders of the proposed plant were to tribal mores and traditions, and how despairing they, the tribal elders were.Iwas moved and disturbed. Surely we could do something to help these poor, naive folks who were about to be victimized by ruthless power plant promoters…so I asked the president of our little boutique investment bank to step in, listen to their concerns, and see what we could do.
Tim came in listened in silence, and then cut to the chase.
“You want more money, right?”
Well, yeah, that was exactly what they wanted.
No problem, said Tim-that’s our business!
So the power plant was built, the tribe got more money, and we got a fee.
Once Rupert Murdoch offered $60 a share for Dow Jones, a sleepy nothingburger of a stock stalled in the mid-30’s, the game was over. The Bancroft family, who controlled a majority of the stock, huffed and puffed, loudly proclaimed their fidelity to the noble craft of journalism, vowed that they’d never sell to such a crass profiteer…until he sweetened the pot and agreed to pay the family’s legal expenses-a mere $40 million!-which, in effect, gave them a premium over the price received by other shareholders.
Like the tribal elders, the Bancrofts wanted the cash. Once they had it, the noble sentiments largely vanished, as they scurried to the bank, check in hand.
And actually, I’m looking forward to the Journalonce it’s been ‘Murdoched’. How does that line from Yeats go…
“And what rough beast, its hour come at last/Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.”