Investors Bancorp buys out activist shareholder

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Investor Bancorp in Short Hills, N.J., has one less shareholder.

The $27 billion-asset company said in a press release Wednesday that it paid nearly $336 million for all shares owned by Blue Harbour Group.

Peter Carlin, Blue Harbour's representative on Investors' board, resigned after the transaction. Investors said in the release it was advised by Carlin that he "has no disagreement with the company or the board."

"Blue Harbour has been a great partner and lead shareholder of our company, and Peter Carlin has been an effective director. We thank both for their commitment to the best interests of the company, and Peter for his service," Kevin Cummings, Investors' chairman and CEO, said in the release.

Several analysts said in client notes that Blue Harbour's exit could remove some pressure on Investors to sell itself.

Laurie Havener Hunsicker, an analyst at Compass Point, pointed out in her note that Cliff Robbins, Blue Harbour's CEO, stated at a May 2017 conference that he thought Investors could fetch $18 a share in a sale. She said other investors in the company were likely hoping that the activist would push for a sale.

Investors, an aggressive acquirer after the financial crisis, was hit with an informal order in 2016 tied to Bank Secrecy Act compliance. That order led to a decision to terminate its pending acquisition of Bank of Princeton.

Investors reportedly hired an investment bank in late 2018 to explore a sale. Freed from the order late last year, the company returned to M&A in July with an agreement to buy Gold Coast Bancorp in Islandia, N.Y.

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