Harvard Illinois Bancorp (HARI) has extended its string of victories against activist investor Joseph Stilwell.
For the third consecutive year, the $167 million-asset company succeeded in defeating Stilwell's efforts to gain a seat on its board. Brian Rebhorn, Harvard Illinois' nominee, beat out Mark Saladin, Stilwell's choice for the seat, by nearly 150,000 votes at the company's annual meeting Thursday.
The bank's shareholders also voted to approve an executive pay plan and to appoint of BKD, LLP, as auditor.
This year's contest was unusually contentious. In April, Stilwell sent his fellow stockholders a photograph of the bank's former chairman sleeping during its 2013 annual meeting, urging a vote for a change at the board. The bank called the move "an affront to the character" of the former chairman, William Schack.
Stilwell later argued that Rebhorn, a store manager at an agricultural-supply chain, was unqualified for the directorship and had been nominated only because he is the son of a retiring director. He called the nomination "irresponsible and troubling" and "a textbook example of nepotism" in a proxy filing.
Harvard Illinois responded that Rebhorn's knowledge of the agricultural industry would be a valuable resource for the board. Saladin, Stilwell's nominee, is a lawyer at Zanck, Coen, Wright & Saladin.
Stilwell has argued that Harvard Illinois has performed poorly while overpaying its management and that it should seek a buyer. It earned $234,000 in the first quarter this year, up 47% from the same period in 2013.