shareholders of an embattled New Jersey thrift company to vote against its management. Institutional Shareholder Services, Bethesda, Md., confirmed this week that it had advised its clients and shareholders generally to back dissidents next Monday at IBS Financial Corp.'s annual meeting. The meeting-which a judge ordered IBS to hold-could mark the end of a two-year struggle by dissident shareholders to install their own supporters on the Cherry Hill-based company's board of directors. The advisory firm, which said it could not reveal who its clients are, found that $750 million-asset IBS has "failed to live up to its promise to add new blood to the board." The firm, which has advised institutional shareholders in at least 20 proxy contests this year, recommended that shareholders vote for two candidates supported by the dissidents. The dissident group of individual investors is led by activist thrift investor Lawrence Seidman, who owns 7.7% of IBS' stock. The report also said the auditor's opinion in this year's annual report was unqualified, so shareholders should appoint Deloitte & Touche as IBS' accounting firm. "That report wasn't what I call a flattering endorsement of the management team," Mr. Seidman said in an interview this week. IBS officials could not be reached for comment. Mr. Seidman's group and IBS management have been fighting in and out of court for more than two years as IBS battled to keep the dissidents from getting representation on the board. In January, IBS lost its effort in federal court to reduce the size of its board and block two of Mr. Seidman's supporters from running for it. Last month a state court ordered the thrift to hold its annual meeting Aug. 4.
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