No one ever said being an activist shareholder would be easy.
Investor Seymour Holtzman and an associate are threatening to sue Ambanc Holding Co. in Amsterdam, N.Y., because the $725 million-asset company has refused to move back the starting time for its board meetings by one hour. Mr. Holtzman and Al Lyons, both members of Ambanc's board since April, assert that the 8 a.m. meetings are impossible for them to attend on time because they commute from Florida.
The thrift company also denied requests that the directors be compensated for their travel expenses or allowed to attend the meetings by telephone.
Mr. Holtzman, who maintains homes in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania, said in a letter to Ambanc chairman Lauren T. Barnett that he would sue if he is not allowed to phone in to meetings. He also called for Mr. Barnett to step down.
"I have gone out of my way to be helpful and offer sage advice but you and most of your colleagues have gone in the other direction in making us feel unwelcome," Mr. Holtzman wrote in the letter, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The letter asserted that Mr. Barnett had promised this year to start the meetings at 9 a.m. Mr. Holtzman also wrote that he considers the company's decision not to reimburse travel expenses "unfair" and "mean-spirited."
Mr. Holtzman and Ambanc have met in court before. In 1998, he sued, trying to force the company to sell rather than acquire an in-town rival. As part of a settlement, the thrift agreed to find a buyer by April 1999 or let Mr. Holtzman select two board members.
He and Mr. Lyons were named directors after no sale was made.
Mr. Barnett did not return a call seeking comment.
Craig Woker and Louis Whiteman