Wayne Savings Bancshares in Wooster, Ohio, has added an activist investor to its board.

The $446 million-asset Wayne said in a press release Friday that Brian Hopkins, a co-founder and principal at Ancora Advisors in Cleveland, had become a director with a term that expires in 2020.

Ancora, which owns about 4.9% of Wayne’s stock, has a history of shareholder activism. The firm has pressed several banks, including MutualFirst Financial in Muncie, Ind., and Riverview Bancorp in Vancouver, Wash., to sell.

James VanSickle is president and CEO of Wayne Savings Bancshares.
Wayne Savings, led by CEO James VanSickle, will try to work with an activist firm instead of fighting it.

“Brian’s financial expertise and banking industry knowledge will make him an important addition,” James VanSickle, Wayne’s president and CEO, said in the release. “The incumbent board members agreed that bringing Brian on … is in the best interest of the company, and will permit us to focus on the company’s financial performance and profitability.”

Wayne narrowly beat a proxy challenge in June by the activist investor Stilwell Group to supplant a director. Stilwell’s candidate fell about 36,000 votes shy of election despite receiving more than 1.1 million votes.

The company in late August hired VanSickle, a former chief risk officer at Farmers National Bank in Canfield, Ohio, which counts Ancora among its investors. He succeeded David Lehman, who served as interim president and CEO after Stewart Fitz Gibbon abruptly resigned in December.

“We are aware of Jay’s stellar pedigree and the experience,” Hopkins said in Friday’s release. “We believe he and his team will continue that success at Wayne and are excited to aid him and the board … in whatever manner we can.”

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