Lawrence Seidman, the activist investor who has waged a series of successful proxy battles to force banks to sell, has increased his holdings in a bank that can't sell itself for at least two years.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Seidman disclosed that he has a 7% stake in Fox Chase Bancorp Inc. in Hatboro, Pa. The $1.1 billion-asset thrift converted to a stock company from a mutual holding company in June.
Under the rules of the Office of Thrift Supervision, which oversees thrifts and conversions, such companies are barred from selling themselves within three years of the second-step conversion.
Seidman, the founder of Seidman & Associates, said he hasn't changed his modus operandi. "I still buy what I think are undervalued situations, though some take longer than others to get to " an appropriate value, he said in an interview Tuesday. "My priority is the same every time — whatever makes sense to create value for shareholders."
In a November interview with American Banker, Seidman forecast more activity from dissidents. "Sometimes the board needs a little nudge and with limited organic growth in banking, consolidation is what has to be done," he said.
In his most recent filing, Seidman said he believed that Fox Chase's shares were undervalued and represented an attractive investment opportunity. T filing said he may make proposals concerning changes to capitalization, ownership or operations and may seek representation on the board.
Theodore Kovaleff, an analyst at Horwitz & Associates and a Fox Chase shareholder, said Seidman would encourage management to repurchase shares and increase dividends. He said it is unusual that Seidman would have raised his ownership so long before the bank could sell. "He's certainly setting up the ducks early," he said.
Seidman also warned that he has "previously nominated individuals for election to the boards of directors of, and [has] engaged in election and proxy contests with a number of publicly traded companies, and expressly reserve[s] the right to take such actions."