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Seven Group agrees to merger

Shareholders vote for Westrac marriage

SYDNEY — Seven Group shareholders have voted overwhelmingly to approve the media org’s unlikely merger with heavy equipment firm Westrac to form Seven Group Holdings.

Deal pairs Aussie billionaire Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network, which is cash-rich but has failed to find any significant media purchases, with his mining operation, which is riding high on a mining boom but carrying debt.

So far, Seven has bought a stake in West Australian Newspapers and 22% of James Packer’s Consolidated Media, but it still has almost $1 billion in its coffers after a failed takeover of Cons Media.

WesTrac is carrying almost $1 billion in debt, of which Seven will pay down half. Stokes welcomed “the vote of confidence” from Seven shareholders.

Despite the odd pairing, Seven shareholders had little reason to refuse the merger in a soft Aussie media market.

Mining group — which has the sole license for Caterpillar Down Under — looks much stronger than the free-to-air web.

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