Shareholders of MoneyGram International Inc. voted overwhelmingly in favor of Ant Financial Services Group’s planned $1.2 billion acquisition of their company, Dallas-based MoneyGram announced Tuesday.
A preliminary tally shows 97% of the shares voted were in favor of the deal and represented more than 82% of all outstanding shares, MoneyGram announced after a special stockholder meeting. The company will report final results to the Securities and Exchange Commission following certification by an independent inspector.
“We appreciate the strong support from our stockholders in connection with the compelling transaction with Ant Financial,” MoneyGram chief executive Alex Holmes said in a statement. “Stockholder approval represents an important milestone on our path to completing the transaction and maximizing value for our stockholders. We are confident our transaction with Ant Financial will create more jobs in the United States, increase competition in our industry, provide new digital solutions, and help more customers across the world who depend on innovative and reliable financial connections to friends and family.”
China-based Ant Financial, which is seeking to expand its U.S. presence, in January bid $880 million, or $13.25 per share, for MoneyGram, the No. 2 U.S.-based wire-transfer provider after The Western Union Co. Ant later upped the offer by $400 million, to $18 per share in cash, after Leawood, Kan.-based Euronet Worldwide Inc., owner of MoneyGram rival Ria, submitted an unsolicited, $1 billion offer for MoneyGram. Euronet at the time pointed out that not only was its bid higher, but it faced less political risk.
The acquisition by Ant is subject to review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency panel of federal officials headed by Secretary of the Treasury that monitors buyouts of American companies by foreign ones. The two U.S. senators from Kansas claim Ant’s acquisition of MoneyGram poses national-security risks.
Ant Financial, however, has said MoneyGram would operate as an independent subsidiary and retain its brand, Dallas headquarters, and management team. The combination with Ant Financial is expected to give MoneyGram access to 630 million new accounts in the Asia-Pacific sector, including 450 million users of Alipay and another 180 million customers of Paytm, a mobile-payment provider in India with which Ant Financial has a partnership agreement.
Ant expects the MoneyGram deal to close in the year’s second half, following regulatory approvals. Meanwhile, Alipay, Ant’s online payments unit, is expanding its North American merchant acceptance at the point of sale through deals with processor First Data Corp. and other payments firms.