HARTFORD - Northeast Federal Corp. said Wednesday it has put off a special shareholders meeting to vote on whether to sell the remainder of the bank to Shawmut National Corp.

Kirk Walters, Northeast's chairman and chief executive, said a proxy statement and registration materials had not yet been finalized.

But observers speculate that the vote was postponed because Shawmut's stock price had fallen below the $21 "collar" price the two banks had agreed upon for the stock swap acquisition to work. Shawmut's stock recently traded at $17.25 per share.

Mr. Walters and a Shawmut spokesman refused to comment about the a possible restructuring of the deal.

The shareholders' meeting was to take place Jan. 27. A new date has not been set.

Shawmut acquired 10 Rhode Island and Massachusetts branches from Northeast Federal last June. At that time, Shawmut said it had reached an agreement to buy the rest of the thrift for $172.1 million in stock. The last acquisition was expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Northeast Federal, which is based in Hartford and has $3.6 billion of assets, has branches in Connecticut, New York, and Southern California. Shawmut has $30.7 billion of assets.

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