RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley signed into law a securities reform bill that included last-minute amendments aimed at aiding First Union Corp. in its efforts to complete a merger with Wachovia Corp.

The signature capped a whirlwind of activity that saw both houses of the state legislature pass the bill, which eliminated the right of a minority group of shareholders in a corporation to call a special shareholders meeting. Atlanta-based SunTrust had proposed a change to Wachovia's bylaws that would have allowed it to take advantage of the law.

The legislation, overwhelmingly approved in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly, takes effect immediately. Gov. Easley signed the bill after the North Carolina Senate approved it to 45-to-1 earlier Thursday. The North Carolina House of Representatives had passed the bill 111-to-1 on Wednesday.

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