Shareholders of Fairfax Media have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger with Nine, despite an attempt by former Domain CEO Antony Catalano to shut down the deal.
The results of Fairfax’s scheme meeting this morning saw 81.49 per cent of its investors voting in favour of the merger, while 18.5 per cent were against it.
Prior to the shareholder vote, Fairfax chairman Nick Falloon acknowledged the company had received a letter from Catalano (pictured above) late last night, who wanted to block the merger by purchasing 19.9 per cent of Fairfax shares and returning cash to shareholders by selling non-core assets.
However, Fairfax said Catalano’s offer was not able to be considered as an alternative to the deal with Nine because it “[did] not constitute a superior proposal”.
It means now that the Nine-Fairfax merger only requires approval from the Federal Court to go through, which will take place on 27 November.
Assuming it gets the go-ahead, the new company, which will be known as Nine, will begin operating on 10 December. But, according to The Australian Financial Review, Catalano plans to challenge the merger in court next week.
Following Fairfax’s scheme meeting, Falloon said shareholders “clearly see the potential” of holding onto their stake in the company “while participating in the combination benefits with Nine”.
“We believe the merged businesses will deliver a stronger, digitally-focused media organisation with a compelling multi-platform audience reach,” he said.
“Thank you to everyone at Fairfax who has worked so hard to put our company in this strong position.”
Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood described shareholders’ approval of the merger as a “momentous” occasion for the company.
“The company is entering the next phase in its more than century-long development,” he said.
“Our businesses and our journalism are well-positioned to continue to be the most compelling voices for the years ahead.
“The combined group’s increased scale of audiences and marketing platforms will drive value creation and deliver long-term benefits to shareholders.”
A Nine spokesperson said the result of the Fairfax scheme vote was “an endorsement of the opportunities this merger presents for both companies’ shareholders, our collective staff and for our clients and partners”.
“We are now working very hard to realise the cost synergies and explore revenue opportunities that will enable us to continue to invest in great Australian content and journalism,” the spokesperson said.