NEW YORK - Dime Bancorp postponed its annual shareholder meeting to July 14 from June 29 to allow for a regulatory review of proxy materials as it continues to fend off a $1.9 billion hostile takeover.

Meanwhile its nemesis, North Fork Bancorp of Melville, N.Y., solicited Dime's shareholders Friday to "withhold authority" for Dime's slate of five director nominees, to prevent their reelection.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, North Fork told Dime shareholders that the action would "send a clear and unequivocal message to Dime's [board] that you want Dime to immediately enter into good-faith negotiations with North Fork and any other interested bidders."

Dime has been assessing its future since it canceled plans to merge with Hudson United Bancorp in April. North Fork says it has made several overtures to Dime management in an attempt to discuss its bid, but no meetings have taken place. So North Fork, which is the only known bidder for the company, has accused Dime's management of acting as if it were genuinely considering all options while secretly intending to remain independent.

In its SEC filing Friday, North Fork said its financial advisers contacted Dime's financial advisers again on May 24, the same day Dime announced in a vaguely worded memothat it had entered the preliminary stages of negotiations with unnamed parties and had begun to enter into confidentiality agreements.

"It is time for them to actively take control of their company," North Fork said in the filing.

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