Lawrence B. Seidman is at it again.
The feisty thrift investor from New Jersey-who has already pressured two institutions into selling this year-is now pushing for the sale of 1st Bergen Bancorp in Wood-Ridge.
Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed Aug. 28 say Mr. Seidman's firm, Seidman & Associates of Parsippany, N.J., urged 1st Bergen's board and management to redeploy assets and put excess capital to better use.
"They have large cash positions in U.S. securities and can earn better returns in other categories," Mr. Seidman said in an interview.
Otherwise, he said, the company's board should consider selling the $301 million-asset company and its subsidiary, South Bergen Savings Bank. The 55-year-old thrift operates four branches, in Bergen, Morris, and Passaic counties.
From April 2 to Aug. 26, Mr. Seidman's group bought 9.2%, or 237,100 shares, of 1st Bergen's stock. His group includes John R. and Brant Cali, senior executives at Mack-Cali Real Estate Corp., a real estate investment trust in Cranford, N.J.
Mr. Seidman said he has yet to talk with 1st Bergen's executive team. If such talks do not go well, the filing indicated, Seidman & Associates would consider launching a proxy contest to gain seats on 1st Bergen's board.
Officials at 1st Bergen did not return calls seeking comment.
The thrift said in its second-quarter earnings statement that prepayments of high-yield mortgage loans had hurt net interest income. It reported second-quarter earnings of $550,033, down from $570,447 a year earlier.
To offset the down trend, the company said it may take low-rate advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and invest the money in U.S. agency securities.
Mr. Seidman used proxy battles and lawsuits to get his way with two other New Jersey institutions in which his company owned stakes: Wayne Bancorp and IBS Financial Corp.
Last month, Cherry Hill-based IBS was sold to Hubco Inc., Mahwah, N.J., for $227 million, after a struggle between Seidman's group and IBS management lasting more than two years. In May, Wayne Bancorp agreed to be bought by Valley National Bancorp, also of Wayne, N.J., for $69.2 million. The deal is to close by yearend.
Without naming names, Mr. Seidman said potential bidders exist for South Bergen Savings.