The Bank Slate


Driver Management launching two proxy challenges

A well-known activist investor has set its sights on two banks.

Driver Management in New York intends to nominate directors for the boards of First Foundation in Dallas and AmeriServ Financial in Johnstown, Pa.

J. Abbott Cooper, who founded Driver, disclosed in a regulatory filing that he plans to nominate three candidates to join AmeriServ’s board. Driver owns about 8% of the $1.4 billion-asset AmeriServ’s stock.

Three of AmerServ’s 10 directors are up for election at this year’s annual meeting.

Separately, Cooper, in a a letter to the $12.3 billion-asset First Foundation, stated plans to nominate two female directors with “homegrown” Texas roots, according to the Dallas News.  First Foundation relocated to Dallas from California in 2021.

Cooper has been active in recent years, mounting challenges and raising objections at First Union in Oakland, Md.; Republic First Bancorp in Philadelphia; and Codorus Valley Bancorp in York, Pa.

First United agreed in 2021 to pay Driver $9.8 million to resolve litigation and repurchase his shares in the company. Republic First and Codorus Valley both made peace with Cooper by agreeing to add Driver-recommended directors to their boards.

Recently, First of Long Island in Melville, N.Y., agreed to give Driver a board seat, along with a $100,000 reimbursement, as part of a broader cooperation agreement.

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