TORONTO, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Shoppers Drug Mart Corp shareholders on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of Loblaw Co Ltd's C$12.4 billion ($12.02 billion) bid to buy Canada's largest pharmacy chain.
The deal with Loblaw, Canada's largest food retailer, was approved by 99.89 percent of the votes cast by shareholders at a special meeting.
The pending transaction is Canada's biggest merger deal so far this year and comes at a time when Canadian grocers are under increasing pressure from U.S. competitors like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which has ramped up its grocery offerings, and newer entrant Target Corp, which offers a smaller selection of food products.
The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2014, still needs approval by the competition bureau. The application to the bureau is expected to be submitted shortly after Thursday's meeting.
Meanwhile, local rival Empire Co Ltd is acquiring Safeway Inc's Canadian assets for $5.7 billion, cementing its position as Canada's No. 2 grocer.