Monterey Bay Bancorp of Watsonville, Calif., has agreed to give a board seat to its largest shareholder, who has been critical of the board's decision-making.

The $451 million-asset thrift company appointed Josiah T. Austin to a one-year term. Mr. Austin, who owns 9.7% of the outstanding shares, had threatened in February to nominate an alternative slate of directors.

Mr. Austin has agreed to vote his shares in favor of the board's nominees at the annual meeting in June, the company said.

The company said it plans to hire an investment banking firm this month to evaluate its strategic options.

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