Shareholders of thrifts in the New York City area last week defeated efforts by an activist investor to force sales.

Proposals introduced by Thomas Kahn, president of the investment manager Kahn Bros. & Co., each received just over 20% of the votes in balloting at $1.5 billion-asset JSB Financial Inc., Lynbrook, N.Y., and at Goshen, N.Y.- based MSB Bancorp, according to preliminary tallies.

The JSB proposal, which called for the thrift to auction itself off to the highest bidder, won the support of 21% of voting shares.

The proposal at $453 million-asset MSB, urging the board to hire an investment banker to consider all options including a sale, received 24%.

"Our shareholders voted it down almost 2 to 1, which is an overwhelming margin as far as I'm concerned," said William C. Myers, MSB's chairman and chief executive. "I was very pleased that our stockholders did side with management on this issue."

JSB chairman Park Adikes refused to comment.

The two votes followed months of public accusations from Mr. Kahn that the managements of both thrifts had disregarded shareholders' interests.

Mr. Kahn claimed that JSB officials had missed opportunities to enhance shareholder value through new products, acquisitions, or mergers, and had failed to deploy excess capital.

He said Mr. Adikes' pay was excessive. According to SNL Securities, Mr. Adikes' total 1995 compensation of $1.2 million was in the 99th percentile of chief executives at similar-sized thrifts.

And Mr. Kahn criticized MSB officials for turning down a tax-free, $35- per-share offer from Mahwah, N.J.-based Hubco Inc. in favor of buying eight branches of First Nationwide Bank. He said the purchase was highly dilutive to shareholder value.

Although his motions did not pass, Mr. Kahn noted Thursday that the votes still show much dissatisfaction with management. In fact, a similar proposal at JSB last year, to engage an investment banker to explore a sale, had also received about 20% of the vote, Mr. Kahn said.

"It's a remarkably high vote considering that I didn't solicit any votes or do anything," said Mr. Kahn, whose firm's clients own 6% of MSB stock.

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.