Carver Bancorp, the nation's largest minority-owned financial company, has declared victory in its war with two dissident shareholders who were seeking board seats.
The Harlem-based thrift company announced late Monday that its nominees for the board - former New York Mayor David N. Dinkins and Carver chairman David R. Jones - had gotten votes of nearly 1.8 million of the company's shares, according to preliminary results of the rancorous annual meeting held Thursday.
The dissidents, the husband-and-wife team of Kevin Cohee and Teri Williams, got about 1.7 million shares voted for them, Carver said. The duo, who run Boston Bank of Commerce and Peoples National Bank of Commerce in Miami, control 7.4% of Carver's stock and twice offered to buy the thrift last spring.
Official results are expected to be announced by Friday.
Gratified by the outcome, Carver's president and chief executive officer Deborah S. Wright said she is urging Mr. Cohee and Ms. Williams to drop their litigation against the $470 million-asset New York thrift.
The pair alleged in a Jan. 19 lawsuit that Carver had offered 8.25% of its stock at a discount to Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Provender Capital Group, a minority-owned investment firm, in order to gain their support at the annual meeting.
"We call on Kevin Cohee and Teri Williams to withdraw their litigation and allow Carver to move on," said Ms. Wright.
But that isn't going to happen, according to Robert Patrick Cooper, general counsel for Boston Bank of Commerce. He claimed that 75% of the votes for Mr. Dinkins and Mr. Jones came from just three sources: Morgan Stanley and Provender; Martin Whitman, an institutional investor; and the company's employee stock ownership plan.
"The will of the common stock was thwarted," said Mr. Cooper. "We are confident that we will ultimately prevail on merit."
The dissidents plan to ask the Delaware court for an expedited trial, Mr. Cooper said.