ASB Bancorp in Asheville, N.C., is facing a potential proxy fight from New Jersey activist investor Lawrence Seidman.
Seidman sent a letter on Friday to ASB, saying that he may seek a seat on the board of the $774 million-asset holding company for Asheville Savings Bank. The decision came after Seidman's talks with Chief Executive Suzanne DeFerie ended.
"Discussions between [the two sides] regarding ways to maximize shareholder value ... terminated without a satisfactory conclusion," Seidman said in a regulatory filing. Seidman and funds that he controls "intend to exercise their rights as shareholders of the issuer, which may include, without limitation, seeking representation on [ASB's] board of directors."
Seidman, who is based in Parsippany, N.J., owned a 6% stake in ASB as of March 31. Asheville Savings Bank's employee stock-ownership plan is the company's largest shareholder, with a 10.1% stake.
ASB has previously faced trouble from activist investors. Joseph Stilwell acquired a large stake in ASB in 2011, after the company converted from a mutual to a stockholder-owned bank. At the time, Stilwell told ASB that it should not open new branches and he criticized ASB's loans from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. But ASB bought back about 400,000 shares of common stock from Stilwell in June 2014.