David Jones welcomes SA bid

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Sydney -

David Jones announced on Wednesday it intends to recommend a takeover offer from South African retailer Woolworths that values the Australian department store operator at about $2-billion.

The upmarket chain, which had been discussing a merger with local rival Myer, said its board would unanimously recommend the A$4.00 per share cash offer, a more than 25-percent premium to Tuesday's closing price.

“This is a compelling proposal which represents a significant premium to not only our intrinsic value but also to broker valuations and to recent share prices,” chairman Gordon Cairns said.

Woolworths said the A$2.1-billion deal would allow it to become one of the 10 largest department store operators in the world.

“This transaction provides us with the scale and opportunity to deliver significant benefits to our shareholders, and our customers in South Africa and Australia,” Woolworths chief executive Ian Moir said.

The offer from Woolworths, which is unrelated to the Australian supermarket chain of the same name, will go to a shareholder vote and needs 75 percent approval.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey would also have to review it, as would the South African Reserve Bank.

Cairns said the board considered a number of options including a merger-of-equals proposal from Myer.

“The board has unanimously concluded that the Woolworths offer is a compelling option,” Cairns said in a statement.

“It represents a substantial earnings multiple.” - Sapa-AFP

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