updated 6/23/2005 9:30:20 AM ET 2005-06-23T13:30:20

Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. shareholders on Thursday approved a $6.6 billion buyout that will end the company’s 27-year run as a public company.

During that period, Toys ‘R’ Us became the nation’s largest toy seller, only to lose market share in recent years to the big discount retailers and cede the top spot to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The buyout, approved by nearly 98 percent of the shares that were voted, will see the Wayne N.J.-based company sold to a private consortium at the end of July; stockholders stand to get $26.75 a share.

The consortium is composed of two private equity firms, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Bain Capital Inc., and a real estate developer, Vornado Realty Trust.

That price is the same as anticipated with the March 17 buyout announcement.

Shareholders as of May 20 were eligible to vote, and a majority of shares were required for approval.

The Toys ‘R’ Us board recommended approval, noting that the share price was a “substantial premium to historic trading prices.” The offer is 123 percent over the closing price of $12.02 on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 7, 2004, the trading day before the company announced it was considering dividing the company.

The price is 63 percent over the closing sale price of $16.42 on Aug. 10, 2004, the day before the company announced it was exploring a sale of the global toys business.

On Wednesday, a judge rejected a challenge from some shareholders who had sought an injunction to block the buyout.

Toys R Us became a public company in 1978. Recent years saw contraction. It shuttered 182 Kids ‘R’ Us and Imaginarium stores in early 2004, cutting about 3,800 U.S. jobs.

It now has about 1,300 toy stores and 220 Babies ‘R’ Us stores.

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