ASB Bancorp in Asheville, N.C., has received its second demand in less than a month to put itself on the auction block.

The activist investor Lawrence Seidman on Aug. 21 sent a letter to Suzanne DeFerie, chief executive at the $783 million-asset ASB, explaining why it should find a seller. Earlier this month, Firefly Value Partners in New York called for the company to sell itself.

"Much has been written about 'too big to fail,' but unfortunately ASBB falls into the category of 'too small to survive,' " Seidman wrote in the letter.

ASB, the holding company for Asheville Savings Bank, could not be reached for comment.

Seidman, who owned a 6% stake in ASB at March 31, criticized the company's performance, saying its returns on assets and returns are equity "are truly abysmal." ASB's return on assets was less than 0.5%, and its return on equity less than 4%, in the second quarter.

He also criticized ASB's worsening efficiency ratio, which was 88% at Dec. 31. ASB's second-quarter net income fell 8.8% to $941,000, or 22 cents per share, on lower net interest income after a provision for loan losses.

Seidman also alleged that during a February meeting with Suzanne DeFerie, ASB's chief executive, she attributed the company's results to the weak North Carolina economy. Seidman rejected the argument, saying most North Carolina banks have been able to deal handle poor economic conditions. "They are being more effectively managed," Seidman wrote.

Seidman also said that two potential buyers contacted him to express an interest in acquiring ASB. Additionally, Seidman said the CEO of another bank told him that he had emailed ASB to discuss a possible merger.

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