Nine and Fairfax deal finalised following Federal Court approval

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 27 November 2018

Nine and Fairfax have passed through their last hurdle with their proposed merger cleared by the Federal Court of Australia, ending an almost six month process.

During a hearing today, Justice Gleeson approved the merger between the media companies, despite the efforts of Former Domain CEO Antony Catalano who sought to stop the deal with a last minute proposal.

Catalano had revealed that he intended to submit multiple points of contention regarding the deal, adding that should he be successful in his efforts he would sell off the majority of Fairfax assets.

According to reports, Catalano was not alone in, as Aurora Funds Management, led by Nick Bolton, also submitted separate pieces of evidence in its own attempt to block the deal. 

The Federal Court was the last stage of the approval process for the two businesses, which announced plans to merge in late July this year, follow the recent approval from Fairfax shareholders.

Over 81% of Fairfax's shareholders approved the merger. Following the completion of the merger, Nine shareholders will hold 51.1% of the new Nine entity and Fairfax shareholders will hold 48.9%.

Nine has previously stated that should the deal go ahead, it expects the merger to be completed in early December.

Despite the final approval, both Catalano and Aurora have the option to appeal the Federal Court's ruling. Catalano has told Fairfax he is unlikely to appeal the court's decision.

"This remarkable merger draws together the quality, strengths, assets and reach of two of Australia’s most famous and successful brands to produce one business – which shapes as one of the largest and most diverse media organisations in the country," Nine CEO Hugh Marks said in a letter to staff.  

"This deal is all about our strategy for the future together and it promises exciting opportunities for our employees, our clients and our audiences.  Together we will provide our audiences with the best of entertainment and quality journalism on the platform they choose. As one company. "

Marks labelled the opportunity "quite breathtaking" and said the the businesses were on track to complete the merger by the expected date of 10 December.

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