Australian Court Gives Approval for Mega Merger of Nine and Fairfax

BRISBANE — An Australian federal court has given approval for the acquisition of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media, creating Australia’s largest media conglomerate. The decision is the last stage of regulatory approval, but it could still be challenged.

The court in Sydney, ruled on Tuesday for the takeover of Fairfax by Nine, in a deal styled as a merger. Presiding Justice, Judith Gleeson said she would publish her reasons later.

The deal, which gives Nine shareholders 51.1% of the enlarged company, has already been approved by Australian competition regulators and by shareholders. With the court approval, the merger will take place on Dec. 9, and begin operating as a single company from Dec. 10.

The court heard argument from Anthony Catalano, former CEO of real estate website and 1% owner of Fairfax, that he had not been properly heard at a recent company meeting. Catalano says he is proposing a better offer to Fairfax shareholders, notably because the value of Nine shares have dropped in the period since the deal was proposed.

Nine’s lawyers argued that Catalano had not made an offer that shareholders could vote on. Gleeson said that there was no point delaying her approval “in circumstances where the board had identified they had no intention of appointing him to the Fairfax board.” However, the possibility of appealing against her decision remains open until Dec 7.