Lew confirmed as buyer of 9.9% DJs stake

Long-rumoured buyer of David Jones shares confirms holding of almost 10% through associated companies.

Companies associated with retailer Solomon Lew have emerged with a 9.89% stake in David Jones (DJS), just hours after shareholders in South Africa's Woolworths approved a $2.15 billion takeover bid for the Australian retailer.

Australian Retail Investments, Lew's private company and an associate of SL Nominees, has bought a 9.89% stake in the retailer, through the acquisition of over 53 million shares, according to a notice of substantial holding filed to the ASX this morning.

The purchase makes Lew the single largest shareholder in the department store chain, with the shareholders' meeting set down for June 30.

The news will create a headache for Woolworths's takeover prospects. Woolworths shareholders offered almost unanimous support for the acquisition at a specially convened meeting overnight.

According to the ASX statement, "Solomon Lew, SL Nominees Pty Ltd and Australian Retail Investments Pty Ltd are acting in concert with, and are therefore associates of each other, in relation to the affairs of David Jones Limited."

Lew may hold another 5% or so of David Jones through complicated derivatives positions through Deutsche Bank, which have not been confirmed. If so, he would be close to the 15% or so stake needed to block the Woolworths deal.

The takeover requires approval from 50% of shareholders and 75% of shares votes.

Speculation has been swirling about Mr Lew's motives in regards to Woolworths' bid since a company he directs took a 0.65% stake in David Jones late last month.

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