A Santa Monica, Calif., banking company that caters to doctors, dentists, and other professionals is under pressure from an activist investor to find a buyer.

In documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Oct. 5, Basswood Management Inc. said it is convinced that the sale of Professional Bancorp is in the best interest of the shareholders. The New York-based hedge fund, which owns a 5.1% stake in Professional, said management has not communicated any reasonable prospect for "material improvement in the bank's performance."

"Through a sale, the company's shareholders would likely receive a substantial premium over the current market price, which we believe the shareholders cannot reasonably expect to achieve if the company continues its current course," in said in the filing.

Basswood has a history of shareholder activism. Last year, it forced the sale of Anaheim-based SC Bancorp to Western Bancorp of Newport Beach.

Melinda McIntyre, president and chief executive of $245 million-asset Professional, said she was neither surprised nor intimidated by Basswood's action. "We understand their views," she said. "We have a strong board that is constantly looking at the bank's strategic opportunities."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.