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Abbey shareholders vote for Santander takeover

Abbey has got the go-ahead for a takeover by Spain&#39s biggest bank Banco Santander Central Hispano despite a stormy shareholders&#39 meeting last week.

The support of major shareholders brought 94.6 per cent backing for the takeover, based on share value but, counting one vote per shareholder, only 64.8 per cent approved the deal.

Deutsche Bank analyst John Sheridan says some smaller shareholders felt that the valuation of £8.7bn was low at a time when Abbey was perceived to be getting to grips with profitability issues.

Nine hundred of Abbey&#39s 1.7 million small shareholders arrived at Wembley Conference Centre for a four-hour meeting at which chairman Lord Burns explained why he thought the takeover should go ahead.

Santander shareholders will meet this week for a final vote and a court hearing will start on Nov-ember 8 to approve the acquisition.

The takeover could be completed by November 12, according to Abbey.

The Spanish bank said no decisions have been made on the future for the Abbey for Intermediaries subsidiary.

Press reports claim that Santander has approached former Marks & Spencer chief executive Laurel Powers-Freeling to head Abbey.

Powers-Freeling joined M&S from Lloyds TSB in 2001.

Grupo Santander chairman Emilio Botísays: “The vote is a decisive step towards the creation of one of the world&#39s leading banking groups. We look forward to completing the acquisition on schedule.”

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