Belgian shareholders throw shoes in protest but 73% say yes

Fortis won 73% of its shareholder vote in Belgium yesterday after the meeting had to be delayed due to protests but Ping An was the only corporate to vote against the sale to BNP Paribas, The FT reports.

The sale to BNP of France was ultimately approved by 73 per cent of votes – because management had the support of large institutional investors – in spite of calls of “treachery” and “justice for shareholders” from some of the estimated 3,300 shareholders present.

Shareholders stormed the podium and shoes were thrown.

Another meeting of Fortis Holding shareholders is to be held today in Utrecht in the Netherlands but is expected to be far tamer.

Ping An’s response

"Ping An is disappointed with the result," Dow Jones reported. "The process with which Fortis was nationalised and its assets disposed violated basic principles of corporate governance and has hurt shareholders' legal rights."

The company said it will keep in contact with relevant authorities "to protect its legal rights," but it didn't elaborate.

Dow Jones suggested Ping An was seeking the Chinese government's assistance in its bid for compensation over the carving up of Fortis by the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in September.

The insurer said it has made sufficient provisions for its investment in Fortis, whose value has fallen 90% since it first invested in the company in October 2007.