Updated: 07/14/2014 23:46 | By Agence France-Presse

Australia's oldest department store set for South African hands

Shareholders in Australia's oldest department store, David Jones, on Monday approved an Aus$2.1 billion (US$1.98 billion) takeover of the upmarket chain by South African retail giant Woolworths Holdings.

The David Jones board had unanimously backed the Woolworths proposal, and the Aus$4 a share offer was overwhelmingly supported by shareholders, winning close to 90 percent approval.

Woolworths hopes its Australian acquisition will allow it to become one of the 10 largest department store operators in the world.

"We look forward to implementing our plans to reinvigorate David Jones and enhance the shopping experience for its customers," chief executive Ian Moir said in a statement.

The takeover is now subject to approval by the Federal Court, which is expected to hear the matter on Thursday.

The first David Jones store was opened in Sydney in 1838 by a Welsh merchant of the same name, and over 175 years the brand has expanded to more than 35 stores around Australia.

At the shareholder meeting in Sydney on Monday, several people spoke against the takeover of the iconic institution.

"It's tragic that it's come to this. At least we can get $4 per share and get out," one shareholder Reg Lobb told the meeting.

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