After increasing his stake in a Cleveland thrift, aggressive Ohio investor Richard M. Osborne looks to be preparing a fight with management.
Mr. Osborne fired off a letter last week to officials of Haverfield Corp., parent of $334 million-asset Home Bank, demanding a copy of its shareholder list.
A millionaire investor who controls Mentor, Ohio-based Great Lakes Bank and is president of Cleveland-based industrial gas supplier Osair Inc., Mr. Osborne has previously said in interviews that the thrift's stock is undervalued and he wants management to find a suitor.
He increased his stake in Haverfield to 9.98% in August, and he may seek regulatory approval to buy more than 10%, the letter stated.
"We'll treat this request like any request we get from any shareholder," said William Valerian, Haverfield's president. "If the request is valid, we'll honor it."
Mr. Osborne could not be reached for comment.
Haverfield earned meager returns on assets and equity of only 0.71% and 8.57% in the 12 months ended June 30, while struggling with an efficiency ratio of 70.3%. That means the company spends 70 cents for every dollar of revenue, more than most.
According to his letter, Mr. Osborne, who controls the Richard M. Osborne Trust and the Turkey Vulture Fund, intends to communicate with other shareholders on matters "relating to our mutual interest."
He first revealed a stake in Haverfield last spring and began increasing it last January. Since then, the stock has risen from a low of $12.50 to as high as $19.25 in August. The stock is now hovering at about $18.
Mr. Osborne has a long history of investing heavily in struggling Ohio thrifts, pressing them to improve or sell, and making millions when they do.
He has held controlling stakes in two other institutions besides Great Lakes, both of which sold, yielding more than $8 million for him.
Mr. Osborne and other investors took over Great Lakes in late 1994 and more than doubled its assets from $18 million in 18 months. He has said before that he has no plans to sell Great Lakes, however, and wants it to grow.
In 1995 he attempted to take control of a Cleveland real estate investment trust but was rebuffed by the management after a costly lawsuit.