An investment group in Florida has raised to almost 20% its stake in BHC Financial, a Philadelphia-based clearing firm. "We have a lot of admiration for the company," said Bruce Sherman, chairman and president of Private Capital Management, a Naples, Fla., firm that invests in small-cap stocks. Private Capital and an affiliate, SPS Partners, revealed their investment in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Sherman said his company has been a longtime holder of the stock of BHC, which focuses on clearing for bank-owned brokers and went public in 1993. PCM's $17.8 million investment was made so it could be involved in "cooperative efforts to enhance shareholder value," the money manager said.

Mr. Sherman also serves on the boards of Carnes Capital, which clears through Bear Stearns Securities, and Local Federal Bank, an Oklahoma City thrift in which Private Capital Management has a controlling interest.

Mr. Sherman would not comment on whether he wants seats on BHC's board, which is dominated by executives of the bank-owned brokerages that formed the clearing concern in 1983. William Spane, chairman and chief executive of BHC Financial, said he met with Private Capital Management officials on Sept. 17 and Sept. 24. "Among the cooperative efforts that were discussed were a stock repurchase or possible special dividend," he said. "They have been very supportive."

Securities Industry News is an affiliate of American Banker.

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