* Meeting pushed back by two weeks
* David Jones says to "assess implications" of Lew stake
* Solomon Lew yet to declare his intentions
* Shares in David Jones end flat, below bid price
(Adds Woolworths comments, background)
By Byron Kaye and Tiisetso Motsoeneng
SYDNEY/JOHANNESBURG, June 19 Australian retailer
David Jones Ltd has postponed a shareholder vote on a
$2 billion takeover bid from South Africa's Woolworths
after Australian billionaire Solomon Lew amassed a stake that
could scupper the deal.
David Jones, the country's second-largest department store
chain, said on Thursday that the June 30 meeting would be
delayed to July 14 to give its board time to "assess the
implications" of the retail mogul's stake, which is worth about
Lew, who also owns a minority stake in Woolworths' other
Australian investment, up-market clothing retailer Country Road
, said on Wednesday that he had accumulated about 10
percent of David Jones, up from just 0.65 percent as of May 30.
The postponement, which puts the deal in doubt, also gives
Lew time to accumulate more shares if he wants them.
Melbourne-based Lew, who has had public spats with
Woolworths management over the running and strategic direction
of Country Road, has not said why he amassed the stake so
Investors expect he will use the David Jones stake to force
Woolworths to lift its offer and potentially buy him out of
Country Road, whose thinly traded shares have tripled in price
since the start of the year.
Lew has held his 12 percent stake in Country Road - worth
A$170 million - for 17 years, preventing the Cape Town-based
Woolworths from taking full ownership and delisting it.
Buying Lew out of Country Road to secure his backing for the
David Jones deal may not sit well with some investors, but could
allow Woolworths to dislodge what many regard as a thorn in
"What Woolworths don't want is to have a similar situation
they have in Country Road, where they have a fairly disruptive
minority shareholder on the register," said Roger Tejwani, an
analyst at Cape Town-based Noah Capital Markets.
The David Jones deal requires approval from 50 percent of
shareholders controlling at least 75 percent of the stock, but
only votes cast at the meeting are counted. At regular
shareholder meetings David Jones has had turnout as low as 50
percent, meaning Lew could have enough stock to affect the vote.
"It's quite a high hurdle for Woolworths to get over because
usually at these meetings not everybody shows up, and anything
in the low teens could put Lew in a very good position to
scupper the transaction," said Quinton Ivan, a portfolio manager
at Coronation Fund Managers, which is among the 10
biggest investors in Woolworths.
Woolworths acknowledged that Lew had grabbed its attention
but noted that David Jones management still wanted the deal.
"He has built up a substantial stake and we can't speculate
about where this is going, but what's important is David Jones
continue to recommend our offer in the absence of a competing
offer," said Woolworths spokesman Nic Bennett.
Woolworths Chief Executive Ian Moir was at the centre of
Lew's public criticisms over Country Road, which Moir headed for
seven years before taking the helm at Woolworths four years ago.
David Jones shares ended flat at A$3.90, below a $A4.00
Woolworths bid price and underperforming a sharply higher
overall market. Woolworths stock was also little changed at
77.55 rand by 1130 GMT.
($1 = 1.0639 Australian Dollars)
(Additional reporting by David Dolan in Lagos; Editing by Will