Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved buying the Gillette Co. (G), another step toward forming the world's largest consumer products company.

A.G. Lafley, the company's chairman, president and chief executive, said 96.5 percent of the shareholder votes favored the $57 billion deal, which would bring prominent consumer brands under one umbrella, including P&G's Pampers diapers brand and Gillette's line of shavers.

"We have the opportunity to combine two of the world's leading consumer companies," Lafley said at a special shareholder meeting. "This is a great deal for P&G and shareholders alike."

Most shareholders voted before the meeting on the deal announced in January. Gillette shareholders were scheduled to vote later Tuesday in Wilmington, Del.

The Federal Trade Commission (search) still is reviewing the deal and the European Commissionhas a Friday deadline to approve the merger or begin an in-depth probe. Earlier reports said the companies could sell some overlapping dental-care product lines to address competition concerns.

Lafley said discussions with regulators seemed to be going well, and the deal could be closed by early fall.

The deal would be the largest acquisition in the 167-year history of P&G, whose range of brands includes Crest, Tide and Head & Shoulders. Besides its line of razors, Boston-based Gillette makes Braun electric shavers, Oral-B toothbrushes and Duracell batteries.

P&G shares rose 28 cents to $54.18 on the New York Stock Exchange (search), while Gillette shares gained 27 cents to $51.90.