Portugal gov't ends bank shareholder vote limits, move seen directed at BPI

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s government has approved a measure to end shareholder voting limits at banks in a move that could prompt the end of a shareholder dispute at Banco BPI.

“This measure, which was approved on Thursday, will end the limitations on shareholders votes and has been prepared since February,” said a government spokesman.

The change will take effect on July 1.

The shareholder limit has prevented Caixabank from being able to vote with all of the 44 percent stake it holds in BPI, which has helped Angolan investor Isabel dos Santos thwart attempts by the Spanish bank to fully takeover BPI.

The current law limits Caixabank’s vote as a shareholder at BPI at 20 percent, virtually the same as dos Santos who only owns 18.6 percent.

The change comes after Caixabank and dos Santos failed to reach agreement on the purchase of her shares. BPI said the agreement unraveled because dos Santos disrespected the terms of an initial agreement.

Reporting by Sergio Goncalves, writing by Axel Bugge, editing by Shrikesh Laxmidas