Northeast Federal Corp. has postponed a meeting this week at which shareholders were to consider the thrift's $171.2 million acquisition by Shawmut National Corp.

Northeast, a $3.5 billion-asset thrift, moved the meeting from April 14 to May 11, the third postponement of a meeting originally scheduled for late January.

Northeast Federal said it was still awaiting the financial pro forma statement from Shawmut on its merger with Fleet Financial Group. Those statements include balance sheet and income estimates for the combined companies.

Analysts said they were puzzled by the delay because Northeast shareholders should benefit handsomely from the "double dip," which occurs when shareholders of a company receive shares from an acquirer that in turn is acquired.

Jeffrey Cohn, an independent banking analyst, questioned whether Fleet wanted Shawmut to go through with the acquisition, pointing out that the Providence, R.I.-based holding company might have to divest the thrift's Connecticut operations to meet federal antitrust guidelines. Fleet has said it will have to divest at least $3 billion in assets to comply with federal law.

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