Fairfax Media shareholders approve $4 billion merger with Nine

Fairfax Media shareholders approve $4 billion merger with Nine

Historic Australian media company Fairfax Media will be no more now that shareholders have approved a $4 billion "merger" with Nine Entertainment.

The merger brings the total number of major media organisations in Australia down from five to four, and heralding in the era of mega-media conglomerates with a say in every medium.

The Fairfax brand is one of the oldest in Australia, founded by John Fairfax in 1841 when he acquired the Sydney Morning Herald.

The new entity will comprise the Nine network, the Herald, the Age, the Australian Financial Review, a majority stake in property giant Domain, streaming service Stan and a 54.5% shareholding in radio network Macquarie Media, home of Sydney's 2GB and Melbourne's 3AW.

Nine Entertainment will take a controlling share of 51.1 per cent in the new business, but HR and administrative and backroom jobs will be combined between the two.

The former federal treasurer Peter Costello will chair the new merged media conglomerate, and Nick Falloon, current chairman of Fairfax, will join the board.

The merger did not come without its own share of drama this morning after Fairfax received a letter from former Domain boss Antony Catalano yesterday afternoon.

As reported by The Australian yesterday afternoon, the ex-domain boss Catalano sent Fairfax a letter detailing his intention to buy nearly 20 per cent of Fairfax to halt the Nine merger.

However, those plans were dashed as fast as they were made, with Fairfax unequivocally ditching the letter in favour of Nine.

"The letter [from Antony Catalano] contains no actual proposal that could be considered by Fairfax shareholders as an alternative to the proposed scheme of arrangement with Nine," says Fairfax.

"The letter from Mr Catalano does not constitute a Superior Proposal under the terms of the Scheme Implementation Agreement between Fairfax and Nine, and therefore the Fairfax board is unable to consider it in any event."

According to The Australian, who was privy to the letter sent to Fairfax, Catalano was offering to buy 19.9 per cent of Fairfax's shares at a premium price of 65 cents per share.

Fairfax says the opportunities created by the merger are far more important than Catalano's offer.

The court hearing needed to approve the merger is scheduled for 27 November, and once that hurdle is cleared the merger will be implemented on 7 December 2018.

Shares in Fairfax are up 0.81 per cent to $0.62 per cent and shares in Nine are up 0.31 per cent to $1.64 per share at 10.26am AEDT.

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