A powerful group of dissident shareholders is gearing up for an attack on Baltimore Bancorp, proposing to replace much of the banking company's board when shareholders meet next month.
The burgeoning effort, which would pit many of the most prominent businessmen, bankers and politically connected executives in the region against one of Baltimore's largest banking companies, is apparently an outgrowth of Baltimore Bancorp's bitter rejection of a takeover offer last year.
The effort reflects the rancor of shareholders that first surfaced a year ago when the parent of the Bank of Baltimore firmly and successfully spurned the unwanted $17-a-share buyout bid from First Maryland Bancorp, owner of First National Bank of Maryland.
According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the proposed new slate of directors was compiled by Edwin F. Hale Sr., chairman and chief executive of Hale Container Line Inc. and owner of the Baltimore Blast soccer team.
While 16 directors are expected to be proposed for board seats at Baltimore Bancorp, only 10 have made filings with the SEC. More filings are expected today and tomorrow.
Mr. Hale declined to comment on the proposed attempt, citing strict SEC rules that prohibit discussion of the planned proxy solicitation.
"We have made a filing with the SEC for 10 individuals as participants who are seeking to solicit proxies relevant to the annual shareholders' meeting of Baltimore Bancorp," said Dennis M. Gingold, an attorney for Mr. Hale in Washington.
Jerome P. Baroch, executive vice president of Baltimore Bancorp, said, "We have not been served to my knowledge with anything, and we frankly don't know anything at this point." He said the company could not comment further "until we see what they're trying to do."