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U.S. Apollo Secures Shareholder Backing for Countrywide Takeover

U.S. buyout firm Apollo Management secured backing from the shareholders of Countrywide for its revised 1.05 billion pound ($2.1 billion; 1.6 billion euros) takeover of the British real estate agency on Friday.

The cash and share offer received 98% of the votes cast at a shareholder meeting in London, easily surpassing the required 75%.

Apollo raised its offer on Thursday to 530 pence ($10.53; 7.82 euros) per share in cash and about 0.17 of a share in Rightmove, Britain's largest property Web site, to ward off an unidentified potential rival bidder.

Countrywide's shareholders rejected a 960 million pound ($1.9 billion; 1.4 billion euros) bid by 3i Group, Europe's biggest publicly traded buyout firm, in January after some investors said it was too low.

The acquisition of Countrywide will give New York-based Apollo around 1,200 agencies across Britain and the country's largest valuations and property surveying business at a time of fast-rising house prices.

Countrywide shares were 0.5% lower at 622 pence ($12.35; 9.17 euros) on the London Stock Exchange.

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