Shares of the thinly traded First California Financial Group Inc. soared Friday after it was disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the wealthy owners of the Minnesota Twins baseball club have acquired a large stake in the banking company and are pushing for its sale.
In a filing Thursday, brothers James, Robert and William Pohlad said that they had acquired a combined 12.1%stake in Westlake Village-based First California, which has $1.8 billion of assets and 20 branches in seven Southern California counties.
The Pohlads said in the filing that they believe management's plan for maximizing shareholder value is "inadequate" and that they have asked the board to hire an investment banker "to assess all strategic alternatives," including the company's sale.
Though First California is profitable and its performance ratios are better than industry averages, its shares have been trading at roughly half of their book value.
First California investors cheered the news of the Pohlads' investment. In very heavy trading, the company's shares were up more than 9% late Friday, to $3.97.
The Pohlad family has deep ties to the banking industry. Its patriarch, Carl Pohlad, founded Marquette Bank in the 1950s and built it into a regional powerhouse before selling it to Wells Fargo & Co. in 2002. Carl Pohlad invested some of his fortune in the Twins in 1984 and the team has been in the family's hands since. Carl's son James runs its day-to-day operations. The elder Pohlad died in 2009.