Edwin F. Hale Sr., the cantankerous shipping executive who piloted the turnaround of Baltimore Bancorp and made millions when it was sold, bought a Baltimore community bank last week.

Mr. Hale bought the bank just three weeks after leaving Baltimore Bancorp. "I wanted to be graceful and give them at least two weeks before I got back into the business," he said jokingly.

Baltimore Bancorp's Bank of Baltimore, where Mr. Hale was chairman, was sold to First Fidelity Bancorp. of New Jersey this fall. The deal netted Mr. Hale a fortune because he bought into the $2.3 billion-asset company back in 1991, when most investors were betting it would fail.

Mr. Hale now is plowing some of that money into First Mariner Bancorp, a new holding company that promises to be one of Baltimore's premier community banks.

"Running the Bank of Baltimore over the last three years has reinforced my belief that commercial banking is a people-intensive business," Mr. Hale said. "I intend to put seasoned professionals in front of our customers and stay close to their needs."

Mr. Hale's majority investment in First Mariner, the size of which was not disclosed, must be approved by the Maryland bank commissioner and the Federal Reserve Board. After the transaction is completed, the company will have a $7 million capitalization.

First Mariner will be the new name of a MarylandsBank Corp., which was founded early this year by a group of Baltimore-area businessmen. They bought two small thrifts with the intent of merging them and converting them to commercial banks.

Mr. Hale will become chairman and chief executive of the holding company, which plans to expand from four branches to seven by the end of 1995.

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