Activist investor Michael F. Price, who put Chase Manhattan Corp. on the defensive with his demands that the bank sell itself or take other steps to boost the value of its stock, is pressing a similar case as a shareholder in a California thrift.
Mr. Price made his demands to the $3.2 billion-asset Bay View Capital Corp., San Mateo, Calif., at its annual shareholder meeting last week, according to people who attended the event.
Mr. Price, head of the mutual fund company Heine Securities Corp., Short Hills, N.J., was unable to elaborate on the comments by press time, a company official said.
But people who saw Mr. Price speak, including Bay View chief financial officer Bruce E. Moyer, said the investor claimed that Bay View could fetch $35 to $40 per share in an acquisition. Such a price would be well above Bay View's recent trading range of $25 to $26.50.
Mr. Price was said to have demanded that Bay View's management either find a way to get the share price up to the acquisition premium, or start looking for an outside buyer.
For his part, Mr. Moyer said that the management of Bay View is not looking to sell out, though unsolicited offers will be evaluated in a "fiduciary capacity."
With 27 branches in and around Silicon Valley, Bay View is seen as a potentially attractive acquisition for a thrift or bank looking to build its presence in Northern California.
Among the likeliest suitors, according to investors and stock analysts, are the thrifts Washington Mutual Savings Bank, Great Western Financial Corp., First Nationwide, and H.F. Ahmanson & Co.
But getting these thrifts, or any other investor, to offer what Mr. Price wants could be hard.
"There are no buyers for the kind of price the board and shareholders are looking for," said Chaney K. Campbell, a stock analyst with the brokerage firm Rodman & Renshaw Inc., San Francisco.
But Mr. Price, whose firm owns 7.9% of Bay View, could bring considerable pressure to bear.
Experts said that the mere possibility that he could push for a proxy vote to install his own directors could force Bay View's current management to find a suitor.
At least one institutional investor in Bay View thinks a deal is inevitable.
"The company will be sold," said Orrin Kramer, a partner with the hedge fund Boston Provident Partners in Fort Lee, N.J.
"The only issue is whether they will be sold quickly and voluntarily or whether they will be sold next year in a dignified manner," he said.