DataRoom AM: DJs' day of truth

David Jones will hope for the all-clear as shareholders finally have their say on the takeover, while Air New Zealand squashes rumours Virgin Australia will be taken off ASX boards.

All eyes will be on Solomon Lew today as shareholders finally get to have their say on Woolworths’ takeover bid. Will he be able to resist playing spoiler?

Elsewhere, Air New Zealand has shunned the idea of taking Virgin Australia private, suitors emerge for Leighton Holdings’ stake in Devine and Fairfax Media’s online property expansion has a major hurdle to clear.

David Jones’ day of truth is finally here, with shareholders getting to vote on the planned $2.15 billion takeover of the retailer by Woolworths SA. It is widely expected shareholders will give the deal the green light, but Solomon Lew remains the wildcard. The retail billionaire may have a large enough stake to play spoiler, but there appears no logical reason for him to do so.

Elsewhere, continued speculation about the prospect for Virgin Australia to be taken off ASX boards has been put to bed temporarily as Air New Zealand’s finance chief insisted his firm had no plans to take the Australian airline private. According to The Australian Financial ReviewRob McDonald said Air NZ, which owns almost 26 per cent of Virgin, is “quite adamant” it should stay listed on the Australian market.

However, it’s not hard to foresee a situation whereby fellow significant shareholders Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines boost their stakes a further 3 per cent under creeping provision laws and Air NZ follows suit to ensure it remains the largest shareholder. If so, the free float of the stock could be just 11 per cent this time next year, provided Virgin Group maintains its 10 per cent stake.

It’s the day of truth for the planned $2.15 billion takeover of David Jones as the retailer’s shareholders vote on Woolworths SA’s bid. It is widely expected the deal will get the green light, but Solomon Lew remains the wildcard. The retail billionaire may have a large enough stake to play spoiler, but there appears no logical reason for him to do so.

Meanwhile, bidders are circling Leighton Holdings’ majority stake in property group Devine, with Japan’s Daiwa House and Sekisui House reportedly mulling separate bids along with local firm AVJennings. Leighton owns 50.6 per cent of the ASX-listed Devine, potentially worth about $90 million, but it is considered likely any buyer will look to claim control of the whole business.

Also in property, Fairfax Media’s planned $50m purchase of All Homes to boost its online property marketer Domain could face close regulatory scrutiny. The ACCC has reportedly received several complains about the proposed acquisition, with concentration in the Canberra market considered to be of particular concern.

In the IPO market, retail investors are likely to be allocated shares in Healthscope today after strong demand from brokers’ clients last week, the AFR reports. The allocation will dictate the slice of the $2.5bn float available to institutional investors through a bookbuild on July 23-24 ahead of a planned listing on July 28.

Elsewhere, the federal government has called for expressions of interest for legal and business advisers to conduct scoping studies on the Royal Australian Mint and registry services arm of ASIC. Both government divisions are tipped for privatisation, with advisers to be chosen in early August.

Finally, Baosteel and Aurizon have taken over the boardroom at Aquila Resources after moving to compulsorily acquire all shares they did not own, while a push by Roc Oil shareholders to force a vote on the proposed $800m merger with Horizon Oil failed on Friday. The move, led by significant shareholder Allan Gray, fell comfortably short, garnering 51.2 per cent of the vote, well below the necessary 75 per cent threshold. The merger may instead be threatened by two unsolicited bids for Roc, however, which may see its board walk away from Horizon. 

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