Two activist shareholders have raised the stakes in a battle over a small Chicago thrift by announcing plans to run for seats on its board.
Paul J. Duggan nominated himself and Vincent Cainkar, a lawyer from Burbank, Ill., to the six-member board of $122 million-asset PS Financial Inc. last week. The two are members of an investor group that controls 20.3% of PS Financial's stock and asserts that the thrift is underperforming and should be sold.
One investment banker said the two men will most likely win board seats.
Mr. Duggan, who manages the Chicago investment firm Jackson Boulevard Partners LP, also requested a list of shareholders. In a letter attached to an amended 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he said his group would continue "to actively assert stockholder rights."
Mr. Duggan did not return phone calls seeking comment but had previously told American Banker that he would seek the two director seats up for election this year only if the thrift's management continued to refuse to sell. Shareholders are to vote on directors at PS Financial's annual meeting, scheduled for May 3.
The thrift has hired the New York investment firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. to help craft its strategy.
Kimberly P. Rooney, PS Financial's president and chief executive officer, said the thrift plans to make a decision based on Keefe Bruyette's advice before the annual meeting. She confirmed that a sale was among several possibilities being considered.
"You can't say you're going to do the best thing for your shareholders and exclude that option," she said. "But the market isn't as healthy as it used to be, so that has to be taken into consideration too. If we say we're on the block, we have to know what we can realistically expect."
Christopher R. Raffo, a senior vice president at another Chicago investment firm, Podesta & Co., said a sale would reward investors more than if PS Financial stayed independent. He said the thrift could get at least $14 or $15 a share if it were acquired; its shares were at $10.875 in midday trading Tuesday.
"The path is quite clear if there are potential buyers, which we believe there are," said Mr. Raffo, whose clients control about 5.1% of PS Financial's stock. He later said of Mr. Duggan and Mr. Cainkar, "It's clear that these two will be elected to the board, and it will not be business as usual once they are."