MONTREAL — Jean Coutu Group shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the sale of the pharmacy chain to fellow Quebec retailer Metro Inc.
A near-unanimous 99.9% of votes cast sanctioned the $4.5 billion transaction, which was well above the two-thirds requirement.
Shareholders of Coutu are being offered a combination of cash and stock worth about $24.50 per share under the Jean Coutu-Metro merger agreement.
“Our valued shareholders have overwhelmingly supported the Metro transaction” said chairman Jean Coutu. “This strong support for the transaction shows that our shareholders understand the benefits they will receive as a result of this transaction, either by realizing their investment or participating in the new combined entity, which is set to be a Canadian leader in the grocery and pharmaceutical industries.”
“With the shareholder approval now in place, we will continue to work with Metro to secure the competition approval, with a view to closing the transaction as soon as possible in 2018, as expected,” added Coutu president and chief executive officer François Coutu.
Plans call for Metro’s pharmacy distribution and franchising activities, including McMahon Distributeur Pharmaceutique Inc., to be combined with those of Coutu. Metro said Coutu will operate as a stand-alone division with its own management team, led by François Coutu.
Together, Metro and Coutu will form a $16 billion food and drug retailer with 1,307 stores in Quebec, Ontario and News Brunswick.