Federal Court approves Nine-Fairfax merger

Last hurdle is cleared for historic $4.2 billion merger of Australian media companies

The historic merger between Fairfax and Nine has passed the last hurdle, with Australia’s Federal Court giving the go-ahead for the deal.

The scheme of arrangement for the $4.2 billion merger was officially approved by Justice Gleeson in the Federal Court of Australia today, with orders due to be lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) tomorrow.

This last step comes three weeks after Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC, rubber stamped the deal, event as its chair, Rod Sims, admitted it was likely to reduce competition in the media sphere.

It also comes a week after more than 80 per cent of Fairfax’s shareholders voted in favour of handing over the keys of the business to Nine.

In a statement to the ASX, Fairfax reiterated the combination of the two companies will create one of the largest multi-platform media companies in Australia which will be able to take advantage of further growth opportunities thanks to a stronger combined balance sheet.

“The combined group will have substantial scale in both traditional and digital media, presenting a powerful value proposition to media agencies and advertisers,” the statement read.

In an email circulated to staff, Nine CEO, Hugh Marks, who will lead the merged group moving forward, said the plan is to share the organisational structure and impact on key divisions of the business over the next fortnight. The official first day of joint operations will be 10 December.

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

From 10 December, the Fairfax brand name will be retired, with the new entity operating under Nine. The combined group will own the free-to-air Nine broadcasting network, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, a majority stake in the Domain online retail site, streaming service, Stan, and a majority stake in radio network operator, Macquarie Media.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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