Wesfarmers shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed $20 billion demerger of Coles, in Australia’s biggest ever demerger.
A total of 601,032,572 votes were cast in favour of the proposed $20 billion demerger with 2,900,858 against.
It is expected that Coles shares will be listed on the ASX from 11.00am on November 21.
Eligible shareholders will receive one Coles share for each Wesfarmers share they hold on the record date. They will also retain their shareholding in Wesfarmers. Shareholders will have the choice to keep their Wesfarmers and Coles shares, or sell either or both.
The retail conglomerate will retain a 15 per cent stake in Coles as well as a 50 per cent interest in the flybuys joint venture with Coles.
Wesfarmers chairman Michael Chaney said it was pleasing to receive overwhelming shareholder support for the demerger.
“Subject to Court approval of the Scheme, the endorsement of our shareholders means we can proceed to implement this significant repositioning of the Group’s portfolio, one which we believe sets up both Wesfarmers and Coles for future success,” Chaney said.
Coles managing director Steven Cain said the approval of shareholders opened a new chapter in Coles’ 104 year history.
“The Coles transformation under Wesfarmers ownership has been remarkable – with the store base renewed, a step change in fresh food quality, and a significantly better value position all aimed at improving our offer to Australian consumers,” Cain said.
Cain said the supermarket is now focused on implementing the Fresh Tomorrow strategy which offers more convenient locations, products and home shopping.
Ahead of yesterday’s vote, Chaney reiterated the significance of the demerger in Australia.
“I remind you that this will be Australia’s biggest demerger, and it is not a demerger of non-core assets,” Chaney told shareholders.
“We believe Coles is a great business and we will join shareholders in having ‘skin in the game’ in its future success.”
The next step for Wesfarmers is to seek orders from the Supreme Court of Western Australia for approval of the scheme with the hearing scheduled for November 19.
The spin-off of Coles was first proposed in March this year and last month the Wesfarmers board recommended shareholders vote in favour of the demerger.
Wesfarmers previously said that it expects Coles to become a top-30 Australian listed company post-demerger with “leading positions in fresh food, groceries, liquor and convenience”.