Hampden Bancorp (HBNK) is urging its shareholders to reject the board nominees of a Texas hedge fund.

The Springfield, Mass., company filed a proxy with the SEC last week urging shareholders to reject the two candidates proposed by Clover Group, a Dallas hedge fund that controls about 6.8% of Hampden's voting rights. The $653 million-asset Hampden also urged shareholders to oppose Clover's proposal that it seek to sell itself or find a merger partner.

Clover filed a proxy with the SEC on Sept. 5, claiming that the company underperforms peers and overpays its executives. Clover is seeking to place Johnny Guerry, one of its principals, and Garold Base, a former chief executive of Viewpoint Financial (VPFG) in Dallas, on Hampden's board. Clover has investments in more than 20 banks, several of them in Massachusetts.

Hampden is looking to fill four board seats at its Nov. 5 annual meeting.

Hampden's letter, which was disclosed Friday in a regulatory filing, asks shareholders to discard the proxy sent by Clover and elect the thrift's four candidates to three-year terms. Hampden also wants it shareholders to oppose Clover's proposal that the thrift merge or sell itself.

At Hampden's last annual meeting, shareholders passed a nonbinding resolution asking the management to look at strategic alternatives. Hampden earned $734,000 in the second quarter and $4.5 million last year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It hired a new CEO earlier this year.

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