Liberty Bell Bank in Marlton, N.J., has appointed a new chief executive as it continues to work through credit issues.
The $149 million-asset bank said in a press release last week that Benjamin Watts, its former chief financial officer, had become its president and CEO. Watts succeeded Kevin Kutcher, who became vice chairman and director of corporate and business development. Dennis Costa, who had been senior vice president of finance, was named chief financial officer.
Liberty Bell also announced that Kenneth Lehman, the bank's biggest investor, has joined the board. Lehman, who made his initial investment in 2013, increased his stake in the company earlier this year when Liberty Bell completed a $5 million capital raise. As part of his 2014 share purchase, Lehman was allowed to identify up to $9 million in problem assets that would become part of an asset-resolution plan.
The bank said it lost nearly $1.5 million in the third quarter, compared to a narrow profit a year earlier, as it addresses past credit issues. The loss includes a $167,000 loss tied to the writedown of foreclosed properties, a $927,000 loan-loss provision, $110,000 in legal expenses tied to its troubled-asset portfolio and $36,000 in costs tied to other real estate owned.
"We have made significant progress in cleaning up the problems we have faced from the recession and the multi-bank check kite," Bill Dunkelberg, Liberty Bell's chairman, said in a press release. "We will use the fourth quarter to finish the cleanup and look forward to starting 2015 with more normal operations and a year of profitability," he concluded.
Criticized and classified loans fell 11% at Sept. 30 compared to the end of last year, to $8 million. Other real estate owned fell 16% at Sept. 30 from the end of 2013, to $5.3 million.