David Jones shareholders have overwhelmingly backed a $2.2 billion foreign takeover of Australia’s oldest department store.
Almost 97 per cent of shares were voted to accept the $4-a-share offer from South African retailer Woolworths Holdings, well above the 75 per threshold needed for the bid to succeed.
Some shareholders expressed concern about the sale of an “iconic” Australian business, but chairman Gordon Cairns said the offer was a “significant premium” on the value of their shares.
He said the takeover was the best way forward for the department store.
“We believe this takeover is good for shareholders, customers and staff,” he told the shareholder meeting in Sydney.
There had been concern billionaire Solomon Lew, who owns 9.9 per cent of David Jones, could move to block the takeover amid a dispute with Woolworths SA about fashion retailer Country Road.
However, there was no word from Mr Lew or his representative at the meeting, but he appears to have abstained from the vote.
Woolworths has offered to buy Mr Lew’s 12 per cent stake in Country Road for more than $200 million to get the David Jones takeover across the line.
Some shareholders criticised the deal, arguing the money should have instead been used to increase the $4 a share offer.
Woolworths chief executive Ian Moir was not at the meeting after being advised by doctors not to fly, following a back operation two weeks ago.
David Jones entered a trading halt ahead of the meeting. The stock last traded at $3.93.