Shareholders in regional broadcaster Prime have this morning voted against the media company’s proposed takeover by Seven West Media.
It’s understood Prime’s two major shareholders – Australian Community Media executive chairman Antony Catalano and WIN TV owner Bruce Gordon – combined to kybosh the deal.
Seven had offered to buy Prime for a reported $64 million as part of new CEO James Warburton’s expansion of the TV business.
However, in a statement to the ASX, Prime said: “Based on the proxies received from Prime shareholders to date, the Prime board considers that the scheme is unlikely to be approved by Prime shareholders by the requisite majorities.”
Catalano and business partner Thorney Investment Group billionaire Alex Waislitz have 14.57 per cent of Prime’s shares while Gordon has a 19.5 per cent interest and 11.6 per cent worth of votes.
The ACCC had given the merger the green light, while a report from investor consultancy firm Lonergan, Edwards & Associates described the offer as “reasonable” but described the offer price as “unfair”.
Anticipating Prime’s move, Warburton said yesterday he was “disappointed with the likely outcome of the vote”.
“The merger with Prime was a logical and good outcome for both sets of shareholders. Our great relationship with Prime will continue under our affiliation agreement and we look forward to delivering outstanding content for them in 2020,” he said.
“We appreciate the co-operation of Prime’s board and management throughout this process.”
On Monday, Prime Media Group chairman John Hartigan – a vocal supporter of the merger – accused Catalano of attempting to “hijack” the merger.
In response, Catalano told Nine media: “Maybe, rather than being accused of hijacking the deal, Alex Waislitz and I, and separately Bruce Gordon, and potentially many other shareholders agree with Prime’s independent expert who concluded the deal was unfair.”