New York bank fends off activist challenge

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Hanover Bancorp in Mineola, N.Y., has turned back an activist investor’s challenge.

The $862 million-asset company disclosed Tuesday that a management-backed slate of three directors received support from more than 80% of the shares voted at its annual meeting.

Shareholders also approved a measure to remove director John Sapanski, the father of one of three senior executives who quit Hanover in October to join a rival bank. A spokesperson said Thursday that Hanover, the holding company for Hanover Community Bank, would reduce the size of its board in the wake of Sapanski’s departure.

“We are pleased with the overwhelming support we received at the 2020 Annual Meeting and appreciate the feedback from our shareholders,” Chairman and CEO Michael Puorro said in a press release.

“Hanover has a clear directive, which is to keep the company on course for an initial public offering," Puorro added. "We are committed to putting Hanover in the best possible position to successfully access the capital markets by growing the company’s assets, loans and deposits.”

Puorro declined an interview request.

Shareholders rejected a bid by Brian Pun, a New York developer and longtime Hanover investor, who sought board seats for himself and two colleagues.

In a contentious exchange of shareholder letters earlier this month, Pun criticized Puorro for failing to attract and retain senior-level executives and for receiving an outsized amount of equity compensation. Puorro and Hanover hit back, disclosing that the bank had made loans to Pun and paid his real estate companies tens of thousands of dollars in referral fees.

A representative for Pun did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hanover held its annual meeting last week. Its results have yet to be certified by an outside elections inspector.

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