An activist investor is laying the groundwork for a potential proxy battle with Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida in Stuart.

Basswood Capital Management in New York disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that it had recently asked for a board seat at the $3.5 billion-asset company. Basswood, which owns about 6.9% of Seacoast's stock, disclosed that Matthew Lindenbaum, one of its managing member, first discussed the matter with Dennis Hudson, Seacoast's chairman and chief executive, on March 10.

Lindenbaum met with Seacoast representatives on Thursday, where they discussed the option of giving Lindenbaum non-voting, observer status on the board. Basswood and Seacoast have yet to successfully negotiate an observer rights agreement, the filing said.

Basswood "is prepared to continue these discussions, but is also considering its other options," the filing added. As a result, Basswood may "engage in discussions" with potential acquirers of Seacoast, with "knowledgeable industry or market observers," or with other investors to discuss strategic alternatives for the company.

Hudson could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Seacoast has been an acquirer, recently buying the $407 million-asset Floridian Financial Group in Lake Mary and 14 Orlando-area branches from BMO Harris Bank.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher is legal counsel to Basswood.

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