Lawyers eager to file lawsuits against selling banks would be well-served to take the time necessary to identify the right target.
Harwood Feffer in New York announced Wednesday that it would investigate claims against the board of First Citizens Banc Corp (FCZA) following the Sandusky, Ohio, company's agreement to sell itself to First Citizens BancShares (FCNCA) in Raleigh, N.C.
The problem? Harwood Feffer identified the wrong seller. In fact, First Citizens Bancorp. (FCBN) in Columbia, S.C., was the seller in the more than $635 million deal announced late Tuesday. The Ohio bank is located more than 650 miles to the north of the actual seller.
First Citizens the one in Ohio was quick to point out the error.
"This is definitely a case of mistaken identity," James Miller, president and chief executive of the Ohio company, said in a press release Thursday. "While our name is similar, we are not a party to the acquisition and have not been notified of any investigations regarding our company or directors."
To its credit, Harwood Feffer issued a correction to its release, owning up to the mistake. And it seems like an easy enough mistake to make, given the number of banks that use "First Citizens" in their branding.