Fairfax shareholders approve Nine merger

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood. Photo: Getty Images

Fairfax Media shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a merger with Nine Entertainment, approving a deal to create Australia’s largest media company.

As Nine chief executive Hugh Marks, who will lead the new company, sat at the back of the scheme meeting on Monday, Fairfax investors voted 81.49 per cent of shares cast in favour of the merger, while 18.5 per cent were voted against.

Shares in both companies are slightly higher on the ASX following the result.

“The merger brings together two largely complementary businesses to create a diversified portfolio of media assets, comprising Fairfax’s mastheads, Nine’s FTA TV network, high-growth digital businesses including Domain, Stan and 9Now, as well as radio interests through Macquarie Media,” Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon told the scheme meeting.

“The at-scale creation of content and access to audiences, premium brands and data across this portfolio are expected to underpin the combined group’s ability to compete in the changing media market and deliver value for shareholders.”

Earlier in the day the Fairfax board struck down an attempt by former Domain chief executive Antony Catalano to stop its merger with Nine, lobbed late on Sunday evening.

Mr Falloon noted the combined entity will be in a strong financial position to allow it to invest in its portfolio as well as external opportunities.

The board said Mr Catalano’s letter to Mr Falloon, in which he proposed to buy 19.9 per cent of Fairfax shares and sell non-core assets to return cash to shareholders, “did not constitute a superior proposal”.

The deal still requires approval from the Federal Court on Tuesday November 27. All approvals assumed, the new company, to be called Nine, will begin operation on Monday December 10.

Mr Catalano flagged he would attempt to challenge the deal in court next week.

This story first appeared at The Australian Financial Review. Copyright 2018. Read the original article. Follow the Financial Review on Twitter.