Activist Seidman Pressures OBA Financial in Maryland to Sell

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Activist investor Lawrence Seidman is pressuring OBA Financial Services (OBAF) in Germantown, Md., to find a buyer.

Seidman based his assertion that a sale is necessary on the $382 million-asset company's poor asset growth, lagging efficiency and "abysmal" returns on average assets and average equity. "I believe that a sale to a strategic buyer, because of [OBA Financial's poor financial performance, is the only way for the … shareholders to maximize the value of their investment," Seidman wrote in a Sept. 12 letter to the company's board.

Seidman, who controls nearly 7% of the company's common stock, is known for pressuring publicly traded companies to change managers or pursue sales. His March battle over director elections at Spencer Savings Bank in Elwood Park, N.J., was the most recent in a series of legal tiffs that include other New Jersey companies such as Clifton Savings Bank (CSBK) in Clifton and Center Bancorp (CNBC) in Union.

OBA Financial earned nearly $700,000 in the first half of this year. Its return on equity was 1.48% at June 30; its return on assets was 0.24%.

The company's stock closed at $18.73 a share on Monday, compared to its debut at $10 in January 2010.

"In my opinion, there is no legitimate correlation between [the company's] financial performance and its share price," Seidman wrote in his letter. OBA Financial "went public at approximately 60% of tangible book value and rose to approximately tangible book value solely because the majority of the shareholders, who purchased the stock, expected a sale … at a premium to its tangible book value shortly after the three-year regulatory sale prohibition expired" last January.

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