A large investor in 1st Century Bancshares is upset that the Los Angeles company is looking to raise new capital.
Maltese Capital Management in New York, which owns about 9.7% of 1st Century’s stock, disclosed in a recent regulatory filing that it is “concerned” about what it believes to be “a significant change” in the $661 million-asset company’s strategic direction.
Terry Maltese, who runs the investment firm, said in a brief interview Monday that his concerns stem from 1st Century’s plans to raise $30 million. The company filed last month to sell common stock, noting it its filing that the funds could be used for organic growth, opening new branches or potential acquisitions, among other things.
“We don’t think the capital raise is the right strategy,” Maltese said, noting that 1st Century’s registration statement prompted his firm’s filing. “We don’t think they should be raising $30 million of new equity now.”
Jessica Graham, 1st Century’s corporate secretary, declined to comment through a spokeswoman. Calls to Elizabeth Park Capital Advisors and Basswood Capital Management, other large investors that each own about 3.2% of 1st Century’s stock, were not immediately returned.
A capital raise would be potentially dilutive for 1st Century, which trades at about 125% of its tangible book value at June 30, based on American Banker research. The move would also dilute Maltese Capital Management’s stake unless the investment firm participated in the planned capital raise.
Maltese Capital Management has had discussions with 1st Century’s management and board, the filing said. The firm said it could have discussions with other investors about topics such as the sale of 1st Century’s “business or some or all of its assets, capital structure and capital-raising alternatives, governance, current and future board composition, future plans and related matters,” though that is typical language for these types of filings.
This is not the first time 1st Century has run afoul of a large investor.
Palisair Capital Partners launched an unsuccessful proxy battle against the company in 2008. Palisair, which hoped to gain a board seat, complained about poor performance and accused the company of having “weak internal controls and substandard corporate governance practices.”