3i needed 75% of shareholders’ votes to buy Countrywide but only managed to achieve 58%.
Countrywide chairman Christopher Sporborg says: “The directors worked hard for several months to get the best offer for shareholders. We are disappointed by the outcome of the meeting but we respect the views of shareholders.
“We have to move on and the board will be discussing the best way forward for the company.”
3i has been in talks with Countrywide since September but these have followed a rocky path. Earlier this month, one of Countrywide’s major shareholders, Artisan Partners, tried to block the move due to concerns over its fairness, prompting the European Commission to set a February 8 deadline for an inquiry into the acquisition.