BELGIUM - BNP Paribas has finally won the support of Fortis shareholders and is now just awaiting regulatory approval to complete the long-running takeover of Fortis Belgium.

Shareholders eventually gave the go-ahead at a meeting yesterday to sell Fortis' Belgian operation to its French rival after months of trying to get the right agreement between governments, regulators and interested parties.

They previously rejected takeover plans aired at a meeting in February, as shareholders won a slim majority to prevent the sale. (See earlier IPE story: Shareholders vote against Fortis deal)

Prior to that, the Brussels' Court of Appeal had stepped in to prevent a takeover of Fortis Investments after ruling the Belgian government's emergency measures should not be given credence.
(See earlier IPE story: Fortis Investments remains under state control)

The shareholder-approved arrangement still has to receive regulatory approval.

But if cleared, Fortis Holdings and BNP Paribas will work together under the new arrangement to " support the  real  economy by offering loans to individuals   and  companies,  managing customers'   savings,  financing  major projects and supporting exporters" and operate in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg.

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