PSB Financial Corp. in Philadelphia has its eye on hometown rival Jade Financial Corp.
The $255 million-asset parent of First Penn Bank has an option to buy a 7.4% block of Jade's stock from an investor who has been pushing for its sale. Anthony DiSandro, the president and chief operating officer of PSB Financial, said he hopes buying the stake is the first step toward acquisition of $211 million-asset Jade.
Jade is a "perfect fit" for PSB Financial, Mr. DiSandro said. "It serves the same market, and it is a consumer-oriented, strong organization. It will be a great addition, if everything works out."
Whether Jade is interested, however, is unclear. Company officials did not return repeated telephone calls seeking comment on Mr. DiSandro's overture.
Jade is the holding company for IGA Federal Savings Bank. It became the subject of merger-and-acquisition speculation this year when news of its $2 million investment in a fledgling bank Web site angered a number of institutional investors. One, Lawrence Seidman, was so frustrated with Jade's management that he ultimately decided to sell to PSB Financial the 103,950 shares of Jade that he controls, getting $14.50 per share.
Under terms of that deal, PSB Financial must pay Mr. Seidman $100,000 if a purchase agreement is not reached by October. "I do not see why they would have agreed to that if they were not serious," said Mr. Seidman.
Jade's stock was trading at $12 a share at midday Friday. Its 52-week high was $15.25, but it has traded as low as $7.94.
Word of Mr. Seidman's stock option agreement with PSB Financial came as welcome news to another disgruntled Jade investor, John Wilson Spence 3d. Mr. Spence said he hopes that an even bigger suitor emerges for Jade, but he said he would be satisfied with the $14.50 per share that PSB is paying Mr. Seidman.
"You have got to hand it to that Seidman," Mr. Spence said. "He is taking care of his boys."
Jade and PSB Financial are among the co-owners of BankZip.com, an Internet banking Web site that sells online banking services to community banks. It was Jade's investment in this start-up that so angered Mr. Seidman. He, Mr. Spence, and other investors have urged Jade to unload its stake in BankZip.com and focus on its core business.
BankZip.com has five clients, including Jade and PSB.
Mr. DiSandro, who last year orchestrated a $15.7 million acquisition of First Bank of Philadelphia, declined to discuss details of his pursuit of Jade. But he left little doubt that he is serious about buying it.
"We have a mission and a goal, and we are working toward achieving them," he said.