Fortis Holding shareholders on Wednesday rejected the sale of several Fortis assets to the Belgian government by a narrow vote, effectively ending BNP Paribas SA's bid to take over Fortis Bank and potentially opening up a protracted legal wrangle over the future of the Belgian business.

At a meeting in Brussels attended by around 5,000 shareholders, only 49.74% of those represented voted for the sale of 50% and one share in Fortis Bank to the Belgian government.

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