The embattled board of SC Bancorp has set Feb. 28 as the record date for shareholders to be eligible to vote in a proxy fight with a New Jersey investment firm.

Paramus-based Basswood Partners LP wants to get written consent from 50% of the shareholders to add two seats to the board and elect two independent directors. But SC's board amended the company's bylaws to require Basswood to ask for a record date for the vote.

Now that SC has set the record date, it means Basswood can commence seeking shareholders' approval of its proposals.

Officials of Basswood and $476 million-asset SC did not return telephone calls.

The investment firm, which owns 9.77% of SC stock, has criticized the bank's performance and urged that it be sold. Basswood's efforts have also been backed by other institutional shareholders, most notably Michael Price, the president and chief executive officer of Franklin Mutual Advisers.

Mr. Price, who in the past has pressured Michigan National Corp. and Chase Manhattan Corp. to sell, owns 5.4% of SC stock.

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