Hale group claiming Price support Bancorp's largest stockholder to back dissident group.

August 13, 1991|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Evening Sun Staff

In later editions of yesterday's Money Today, it was incorrectly reported how many shares of Baltimore Bancorp are owned by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., a Baltimore mutual funds company. The correct number is 1.1 million shares, or 9 percent of the outstanding shares. The Evening Sun regrets the error.

A group of dissident Baltimore Bancorp shareholders claim that the bank's largest shareholder, T. Rowe Price Associates, has given the group its vote.

"It's a vote of confidence for us," said Edwin F. Hale Sr., the leader of the dissidents.

Yet he conceded that the fight for shareholder votes is an "uphill" battle. "We're not taking anything for granted," he said.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

T. Rowe Price controls about 12.8 million shares of Baltimore Bancorp stock, or about 9 percent of the outstanding shares.

Hale, the owner of the Baltimore Blast soccer team and trucking and container operations, has bankrolled the fight to take over Baltimore Bancorp, the parent of the Bank of Baltimore.

The shareholders of the fifth largest banking operation in the state have until Aug. 29 to vote on whether to expand the company's board from 18 to 28 directors.

If the measure is approved, 10 Hale allies will take seats and the dissidents will have a majority of the board.

A federal court ordered the new election on the issue of expanding the board because of disputes over previous balloting that took place in May.

A spokesman for T. Rowe Price would not confirm that the Baltimore mutual funds company is voting with Hale. But Hale said he is picking up the proxy personally this morning.

Price's support for Hale is not a surprise since the company had voted for the dissidents in their earlier efforts. In the May vote, six dissidents, including Hale, were elected to the 18-person Baltimore Bancorp board.

Additionally, relations between Price and the bank have been strained since last year when Baltimore Bancorp asked federal banking regulators to investigate Price's efforts to communicate with other large shareholders.

A key prize in the struggle between the two sides is the support of institutional investors who control a large amount of Baltimore Bancorp stock.

Robert F. Comstock, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore Bancorp, also has been out in recent weeks trying to persuade the large stockholders to support the bank.

"I think it has been very favorable," he said recently, adding that he believes they have swayed them to the bank's side. "We have answered all their questions."

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