Schering AG's shareholders have given the thumbs up to its wedding with fellow German firm Bayer AG following an extraordinary shareholders' meeting yesterday when outgoing chairman Hubertus Erlen told stockholders that the union could result in annual cost savings of 700 million euros.

Bayer currently has its fingers on more than 95% of Schering's outstanding shares, and Mr Erlen spent the meeting trying to convince its outside shareholders to part with their stock for a cool 89 euros per share, although those that decided against this move will not fare too badly either; they will be guaranteed an annual net dividend of 3.62 euros per share in lieu of an ordinary dividend, three times as much as Schering's last dividend payment.

Meanwhile, the meeting also proposed the appointment of several Bayer luminaries to Schering's supervisory board, including chairman Werner Wenning, Friedrich Berschauer, who heads up Bayer's cropscience business, and general counsel Roland Hartwig. Wenning becomes chairman of the supervisory board, while Arthur Higgins - chairman of Bayer HealthCare - becomes chairman of Schering's board of management.

The new company, which will be named Bayer Schering Pharma AG, will be the world's seventh biggest pharmaceuticals firm and global number seven in the biotechnology industry.