The management of a Missouri thrift holding company continues to pursue acquisition opportunities, despite a recent nonbinding shareholder vote that favored putting the company up for sale.
Last week, Jefferson Savings Bancorp, a $1.1 billion-asset company based in Ballwin, announced a letter of intent to buy L&B Financial, Sulphur Springs, Tex., and its $134 million-asset Loan amd Building State Savings Bank.
Jefferson Savings, which operates thrifts in the St. Louis metropolitan area and northeast Texas, also recently announced plans to buy $68 million- asset Texas Heritage Savings Association/Banc, Rowlett, Tex.
"Clearly, they're unresponsive to the stockholders' request," said Mary Kathryn Drake, a Texan who is Jefferson's largest individual shareholder, and who has led a push for the company to sell as a way of maximizing shareholder value.
In the nonbinding balloting at the company's May annual meeting, shareholders voted 1.92 million shares to 1.61 million shares in favor of actively seek a sale or merger.
Jefferson's chief financial officer Paul J. Milano said, however, that management told shareholders it felt that selling the company now would be "premature."
"The company continues to strategically grow," he said. "We've found a very good market in Texas and think it will enhance shareholder value."
Wayne Bopp, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said he expects management to continue to favor independence.
Moreover, he said, it would take a while for shareholders to get substantial board representation, as even if they choose to put forth a slate of candidates, they couldn't do so until next spring.
Ms. Drake said she is exploring her next move.
She and other disgruntled shareholders began airing gripes about the company in 1995, complaining of their lack of representation on the board and what they said was excessive management compensation.
Earlier this year, shareholders fought to get the sale proposal onto the company's proxy statement for a vote.