NETHERLANDS - Shareholders of the Belgian-Dutch bancassurer Fortis today voted against the sale of Fortis to the Belgian government and the French bank BNP Paribas.

During a shareholders meeting in Brussels, a narrow majority of 50.26% of shareholders present voted against the sale, making Fortis Holding's future and that of its asset management division, Fortis Investments, unclear.

Earlier this week, Fortis chairman Jan-Michiel Hessels said a bankruptcy could follow if Fortis investors voted against the division.

According to media reports, around 5000 shareholders made their way to Brussels today, representing more than one-fifth of all shares of Fortis.

Almost 60% of shareholders also voted against the sale of the Dutch operations of Fortis in the Netherlands concering the sale of Fortis Bank Nederland, Fortis Verzekeringen Nederland and ABN Amro. The Dutch government paid €16.8bn.

Commentators suggest the transactions are likely to continue through despite the shareholder votes.

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