Family Dollar shareholders approved the merger with Dollar Tree on Thursday morning by voting to sell the Matthews-based retailer to Dollar Tree. The decision comes after a protracted battle with another company that attempted a hostile takeover.
Tennessee-based Dollar General had offered Family Dollar more per share than Dollar Tree, causing shareholders to question the deal Family Dollar board members wanted with Dollar Tree, but ultimately Family Dollar executives were able to convince a majority of investors that an agreement with Dollar General could run into problems with the Federal Trade Commission.
In Thursday morning's meeting, Family Dollar CEO and Chair Howard Levine said he agreed with shareholders who questioned the board's recommendation to move forward with Dollar Tree on at least one point. "Economically, the [Dollar General] deal on paper is better than the Dollar Tree deal," he said. "But you also have to think about whether the deal will close."
When one shareholder objected during the meeting, saying he preferred the higher stock price Dollar General was offering, Levine said, "Look, I own a few shares too, so I care greatly, and I think this is a far superior deal."
Critics had excused Levine and other executives of favoring the less lucrative offer due to preferred employment packages with Dollar Tree, but those claims Levine said, "are false. We were open to both deals, but again, you have to look at whether you are getting the deal through regulators. The comments surrounding me personally make no sense," Levine continued to tell reporters after the meeting. "If we took the Dollar General deal, it would have been better [financially] for me."
Levine told shareholders that "the board considered a number of business moves and the Dollar Tree merger is the best outcomes of all those. The board," he said, "is unanimous in its decision."
Bob Sasser, Dollar Tree's Chief Executive Officer said, "Today's vote of approval by Family Dollar shareholders represents a crucial step toward combining Dollar Tree, North America's leading fixed-price point discount retailer, with Family Dollar, a leading multi-price point retailer with a 50+ year history of serving low and middle income customers."
About 84 million shares were voted in favor of the merger proposal, based on the preliminary count of votes cast at the Company's Special Meeting.
Family Dollar employs about 1,300 corporate workers at its corporate offices on Monroe Road. The said a significant number of employees at the Matthews headquarters will remain with the combined company.
The company says the proposed merger remains subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission.
"I'm very excited about today," Levine said. "It's been painful getting here, but I've always believed we're in a strong position."
The companies said the deal could close as soon as March.