David Jones will become a South African business after nearly 97% of shares (268 million) were voted in favour of a $2.2 billion, $4-a-share takeover offer by Woolworths Holdings at a meeting this morning. The vote was 90% for/10% against in terms of shareholders.
Woolworths CEO Ian Moir was not present due to health concerns, but DJs chairman Gordon Cairns backed the sale, saying the Woolworths deal offered a significant premium. DJs shares were at $3.93 before being placed in a trading halt prior to the meeting.
Speculation that Solomon Lew, who owns 9.9% of DJs, would attempt to block the deal was not realised, most likely because Woolworths offered Lew a $200 million sweetener to buy his stake in the fashion retailer Country Road. Woolworths Holdings already owns more than 87% of Country Road, but Lew has stymied the company’s attempts for total control.
The final DJs vote was well above the 75% required to approve the deal. Some 107 shareholders, with nearly 54 million shares, abstained from the vote.
While a few shareholders raised concern about the sale of an “iconic” Australian brand to overseas interests, the deal had the backing of institutional shareholders.
Woolworths Holdings is not associated with the Australian supermarket giant Woolworths Ltd.
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