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Shareholder wants vote on AmSouth sale

AmSouth Bancorporation isn't used to having shareholders resolutions at the annual meeting. But this year, the old-line Alabama banking company will consider a whopper, thanks to a shareholder from Largo.

The vote scheduled for the April 17 annual meeting will determine whether AmSouth's board should consider putting the company on the selling block.

Shareholder Lynn W. Sickler of Largo requested the vote and had the unusual proposal placed on the annual meeting agenda. Sickler believes directors should study finding a buyer willing to pay at least $60 in cash or stock for AmSouth _ a premium of about 20 percent on the current stock price.

Such a deal would be valued at about $3.3-billion. AmSouth's stock closed at $50.12{ a share Tuesday.

Birmingham-based AmSouth said it won't try to block the vote. "It's a shareholder's democracy," spokesman Jim Underwood said.

AmSouth officials think Sickler is a former shareholder of Fortune Bancorp., a thrift in Clearwater acquired by the bank in June 1994. Sickler couldn't be reached Tuesday for comment.

The SEC documents say he owns 18,243 AmSouth shares, worth more than $930,000 today.

In a brief letter to AmSouth officials, Sickler didn't explain why he wanted board members to consider selling the bank.

"We have 14,000 shareholders, and this is the first time that anyone can remember us having a shareholder proposal," Underwood said.

The proposal comes when many analysts say AmSouth is showing signs of recovery from earlier stumbles. Profits were hurt by a costly acquisition campaign in Florida, which climaxed with the purchase of Fortune, its largest buy at $287-million. AmSouth since has steered clear of acquisitions.

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