Photographer: Thomas Meyer/Bloomberg

Banco BPI's Board Proposes Removing Limit on Voting Rights

  • CaixaBank is BPI's biggest shareholder and backs proposal
  • Shareholder meeting in June didn't approve removing the limit

Banco BPI SA’s board will ask investors in the Portuguese lender to scrap a limit on voting rights at its shareholder meetings. The stock climbed more than 9 percent.

The board wants to remove a rule that restricts a single investor’s voting rights to 20 percent as it may “condition” the involvement of shareholders in the bank’s activities, including in funding, expansion and mergers, Oporto-based BPI said in a regulatory filing on Thursday. It didn’t provide a date for when the vote may take place.

CaixaBank SA, Spain’s third-largest lender, in June withdrew a 1.1 billion-euro ($1.2 billion) offer to buy the 56 percent of the Portuguese bank that it doesn’t already own. A proposal to remove the voting limit failed after getting only 52 percent backing at a BPI shareholder meeting, less than the required 75 percent.

BPI shares rose as much as 9.5 percent to 1.024 euros on Friday, and traded at 1.002 euros as of 2:37 p.m. in Lisbon. CaixaBank climbed 6.6 percent to 2.667 euros in Madrid.

CaixaBank views the proposal favorably, it said Thursday evening in a Spanish regulatory filing. It said it hasn’t taken any decision on its BPI stake.

“Since I love the bank and I want the best for the bank, either alliances are reached or the limit is eliminated because you cannot put more capital, if needed, in a bank in which you would always have the same percentage of votes,” CaixaBank Chairman Isidro Faine told reporters on January 29. “It’s true that we have to settle our differences with our partners, but we are open to reach agreements. That’s how we are and we have patience.”

Angolan investor Isabel dos Santos, BPI’s second-biggest shareholder with a 19 percent stake, had opposed the CaixaBank offer. She had said she wanted BPI to consider combining with larger Portuguese lender Banco Comercial Portugues SA.

A BPI shareholder meeting on Friday failed to approve a plan to spin off the bank’s African assets, which would have helped the Portuguese lender comply with European rules limiting its exposure to Angola.

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