New Delhi: Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of London-based WPP Group Plc., the world’s most valuable advertising and marketing services company by market capitalization, says that a News Corp. acquisition of Dow Jones and Co. “will be good”.
In an interview with Mint here, Sir Martin said News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch “is someone I admire tremendously because he is an owner-manager, a dynastic manager. There are some dynastic managers who don’t do a great job but I don’t think he is one of them.”
Murdoch “has a great love of the business”, he said. “He listens, he delves and he is a phenomenal gatherer of knowledge and information. Everybody pooh-poohed MySpace.com (which Murdoch acquired for $580 million) and it turns out to be a very shrewd move and there will be others.”
Sir Martin, whose companies are spread over 106 countries and work with 340 of the top 500 global companies by sales as listed by Fortune magazine, says buying Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, “is a remarkably shrewd” move and one where Murdoch is placing “a strategic bet”.
Late Tuesday night, News Corp.’s $5 billion offer for Dow Jones was set to get enough Bancroft family votes to allow it to proceed to a final shareholder vote. No other bidder has emerged for the whole company since Murdoch made his bid. Mint has an exclusive content partnership with The Wall Street Journal.
“If you are going to buy a major public company of the nature of Dow Jones, you are going to have to pay a high price,” says Sir Martin. For Murdoch, buying the WSJ “is an online opportunity, it is an Asian opportunity and he is going to build a business (TV) channel, I am told”. “Rupert is taking a long-term view and from where I sit, it is a sensible thing to do.”
Asked if WPP would rather deal with a smaller Dow Jones and a smaller News Corp. than a much larger and combined News Corp., Sir Martin agrees that the combined company would have extra leverage. But “it is not just about crude, ‘I am bigger and therefore I hold more leverage,’” he notes. “It is much more than price (of ads). It is about how you can develop programmes, content, sponsorship, syndication, and barters in a creative way.
“Negotiating with a News Corp. that includes Dow Jones is far more interesting to our clients than one that doesn’t,” he said.