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Fairfax shareholders approve Nine merger

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Fairfax Media has less than three weeks left as an independent entity after its shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the 175-year-old company’s merger with Nine Entertainment.

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The shareholders approved the scheme of arrangement today after the failure of an 11th-hour attempt by former Domain chief executive Antony Catalano to save the Fairfax Media name.

The $4 billion merger, which has already been approved by the competition watchdog, now faces final court approval on November 27.

“The proposed merger of Fairfax and Nine has received overwhelming support from shareholders,” Fairfax Media chairman Nick Falloon told the Fairfax annual general meeting, which immediately followed the vote.

Catalano, the former boss of majority Fairfax-owned real estate site Domain, had asked in a letter for today’s shareholder meeting to be adjourned for two weeks so his late proposal could be heard.

Catalano wanted to block the merger by buying up to 19.9 per cent of Fairfax, but failed to sufficiently sweeten his offer.

“The letter contains no actual proposal that could be considered by Fairfax shareholders as an alternative to the proposed scheme of arrangement with Nine,” Fairfax said in a statement to the ASX.

“The letter from Mr Catalano does not constitute a superior proposal under the terms of the scheme implementation agreement between Fairfax and Nine.”

The merger will leave Australia with four major media players instead of five, with Nine adding newspapers such as The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald to its free-to-air TV network.

The deal also gives the new business Fairfax’s majority stake in Domain, streaming service Stan, and a 54.5 per cent stake in the Macquarie Media radio network.

The merger was initially flagged in July, and the competition watchdog has already given the green light after finding it would not substantially diminish competition in Australian news and media.

-AAP

 

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