Why did this bank CEO get fired shortly after reporting a profit?
Codorus Valley Bancorp in York, Pa., has fired the president and CEO of its bank.
The $1.7 billion-asset company disclosed in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it had parted ways with Dwight Utz, who had also been its chief operating officer. In a single sentence, Codorus Valley said it had terminated the executive’s employment “without cause,” triggering a clause that guaranteed him payment of a year’s salary and benefits.
Utz’s salary was $390,000 in 2017, according to the company's last proxy statement.
Utz joined the $1.7 billion-asset Codorus Valley in September 2015 as its chief operating officer. He became president and CEO of its bank a few months later.
Utz served as president and CEO of ECB Bancorp in Engelhard, N.C., from June 2009 until its sale to Crescent Financial Bancshares in April 2013. While at ECB, Utz was targeted by a shareholder group that wanted to oust him after a planned $80 million capital raise fell apart in 2011. Ultimately, the board supported Utz, and he was able to engineer ECB’s $52 million sale to Crescent.
Utz’s departure came as a surprise. Codorus reported earnings of $12 million last year; that was a decline of 8% from a year earlier, but the primary reason was a one-time tax adjustment. The company saw double-digit increases in loans, deposits and revenue, and nonperforming assets were just 0.38% of total assets. It said earnings would have risen 13% without the tax adjustment, and parent company CEO Larry Miller described 2017 as "another year of strong performance" in a Jan. 18 news release.
Utz’s original two-year employment agreement was renewed for an additional 12 months in May 2017.
Efforts to reach Utz and Larry Miller, Codorus Valley's chairman and CEO, were unsuccessful.