H.F. Ahmanson & Co. gained ground Monday in its battle for Great Western Financial Corp.

An independent inspector, CT Corporation System, certified that a recount of a shareholder vote showed a majority of shareholders wanted an annual meeting by May 6.

The matter had been in dispute since Great Western discovered that a large shareholder, controlling more than 5.2 million shares, had inadvertently voted twice.

Holding the meeting today is unfeasible, but Ahmanson sources said the vote should make Great Western hold its meeting before any vote on a merger proposal from Washington Mutual Inc.

The timing of the board meeting, currently set for June 13, could be decided by the Delaware Chancery Court this week, sources said.

"This is a breakthrough on the credibility issue," said a source close to Ahmanson. "They keep saying that we cheated and double-counted those shares.

"What this shows is that when we said that we won, we had in fact won and that we were in no way trying to mislead anybody."

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