Fortis shareholders reject chairman

Fortis shareholders rejected the appointment of a new chairman on Tuesday during a stormy meeting, at which they lined up to harangue the board of the Belgian-Dutch financial group after its partial nationalisation. The 5,000 investors voted against installing – and loudly booed – Etienne Davignon, the Belgian businessman and former diplomat, as chairman. They rejected the re-appointment of two other board members and kept the present board in place. Shareholders did approve Karel De Boeck, a 32-year veteran of the group, as chief executive. Shares in Fortis have plummeted to €0.69, from €34 early last year before it joined forces with RBS and Santander to launch a break-up bid for ABN Amro. Its Dutch banking and insurance businesses have been nationalised and the Belgian banking and insurance activities are being sold to BNP Paribas, along with rights to the Fortis name and logo. Ping An, the Chinese insurer, which holds 5% of Fortis, did not say how it voted at the meeting but assured the re-election of Louis Cheung Chi Yan, its finance chief.

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