Shareholders in Australian department store retailer David Jones have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a takeover from Woolworths Holdings in a deal worth AUD2.2bn (US$2.1bn).

The resolution to approve the agreement was made at a shareholder meeting in Sydney today (14 July). Approval was gained for a deal of AUD$4.00 cash per share, with 96.81% of votes cast in favour of the resolution.

“We believe this transaction is good for shareholders, customers and staff,” said David Jones chairman Gordon Cairns. “The combination of David Jones, an iconic Australian business, with Woolworths, one of the leading retailers in the southern hemisphere, will provide scale, an improved product range, an enhanced value proposition and acceleration of our core strategies."

David Jones share price was up 1.27% to AUD3.98 at close of trading today.

The vote ends a long-running dispute between Woolworths and Solomon Lew, David Jones's largest shareholder with a 9.9% stake. He had prevented Woolworths from taking full ownership of Australian clothes company, Country Road, by holding on to his 11.88% stake.

He is believed to have threatened to block the deal unless Woolworths bought out his Country Road stake at a premium.

Last month he succeeded and Woolworths offered AUD$17 per share. Lew had paid AUD$2 per share for them in 1997.

However, earlier this month, corporate watchdog ASIC raised concerns over the deal and requested a report from an independent expert on the deal. This was later rejected by Australia’s Federal Court.

Final approval of the takeover by Woolworths will take place before the courts on 17 July.