SYDNEY (Reuters) — Shareholders of David Jones Ltd, Australia's second-biggest department store by sales, on Monday backed a $2 billion bid by South Africa's Woolworths Holdings Ltd, ending weeks of uncertainty over the intentions of David Jones' second-largest shareholder Solomon Lew.

The takeover gives David Jones the financial firepower to ramp up its online offerings and in-store label, while helping Woolworths become a major global player with annual sales approaching $5.6 billion.

"We believe David Jones as an Australian icon will be better able to compete," David Jones chairman Gordon Cairns told about 500 shareholders at a meeting to vote on the scheme in Sydney. 

David Jones said 96.8 percent of shareholders had voted in favor of the deal at a special meeting on Monday. The vote ends a long-running feud between Woolworths and Lew, who emerged as David Jones's largest shareholder with a 9.89 percent stake just before the vote. Lew, a Melbourne-based billionaire, abstained from Monday's vote, meaning his votes were automatically redirected in favor of the deal.

A spokeswoman for Lew declined to comment.  

The 2.15 billion Australian dollar, or $2 billion at current exchange offer, means shareholders will receive four Australian dollars, or $3.8, per share next month. David Jones shares closed Monday up 1.3 percent or five cents at 3.98 Australian dollars, or $3.74, per share.


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