Seven West-Prime Media merger blocked by shareholders

Seven West-Prime Media merger blocked by shareholders

UPDATE: Seven West Media has acquired a 14.9 per cent stake in Prime Media Group following its failed takeover of the company. CEO James Warburton says the stake was acquired to "provide stability for the business" and to "support regional Australia and regional news".

The proposed merger of Seven West Media (ASX: SWM) and Prime Media Group (ASX: PRT) has been blocked by shareholders in what was a very close vote.

The resolution was voted on this morning by shareholders in Prime Media Group, with 53.53 per cent of shareholders coming out against the merger.

Undoubtedly a significant chunk of the 'against' vote came from major shareholders Bruce Gordon and Antony Catalano, who collectively hold 26 per cent of PRT shares.

The blocking of the merger follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's green light of the merger just yesterday.

The deal would have created Australia's leading wholly owned commercial premium broadcast, video and news network, and was initially worth $65 million but has since fallen in line with Seven West shares.

It would have also followed in the footsteps of Nine Entertainment Company's (ASX: NEC) $4 billion takeover of Fairfax.

Following the vote, chairman of Prime Media Group John Hartigan announced that he is stepping down from his role in the company.

Hartigan initially announced his intention to step down at the group's AGM in 2018 but remained as chairman during 2019 to see the Seven West-Prime Media merger through.

He took up the role of chairman in 2014 following the death of company founder Paul Ramsay in 2014.

Prime Media CEO Ian Audsley says Hartigan was a fantastic chairman for the company.

"Paul was a hard act to follow, but John quickly rolled up his sleeves and got to work earning the respect of everyone at Prime," says Audsley.

"On behalf of the staff and management of Prime I thank John for his tremendous contribution to the company and wish him the best in his retirement."

Hartigan will be replaced by non-executive director Peter Macourt on an interim basis while the company considers the best options for his replacement.

Marcourt joined Prime in 2014 and was until recently chairman of Sky Network Television and Virtus Health Limited. He is also a former director of FOXTEL and Independent Newspapers Limited and a former director and COO of News Limited.

Shares in Prime Media Group are up 2.7 per cent to $0.19 per share at 12.13pm AEDT.

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