Both sides in the struggle for control of Baltimore Bancorp, parent company to the Bank of Baltimore, are expressing confidence that they will win the fight even though official results won't be known for a week.
Edwin F. Hale Sr., leader of a dissident group of shareholders trying to take over control of the bank, emerged from a shareholders meeting yesterday saying an 11th-hour "flurry of activity" convinced him that his side would be victorious.
But Robert F. Comstock, Baltimore Bancorp's chairman, said he had seen no such signs and stated confidence in his side prevailing.
Balloting in the long-fought proxy war ended yesterday shortly after a meeting at the Sheraton Inner Harbor. Shareholders were voting whether to enlarge the bank holding company's board from 18 to 28 positions.
Such a move would hand over control of Baltimore Bancorp to a group of 16 dissident shareholders led by Hale, a Baltimore trucking and shipping business owner who also owns the Baltimore Blast, a professional indoor soccer team.
A majority vote against the measure would effectively leave the bank in the current management's hands.
The Corporation Trust Co., hired to count the votes, is not expected to release an official tally until late next week.
Yesterday's meeting was attended by about 200 shareholders and the company's board of directors. It gave many a last opportunity to state positions in the long-running fued, which has resulted in one contested election, a court case and the firing of ++ the bank's previous chairman and chief executive officer.
Comstock, who took over from former bank Chairman Harry L. Robinson, told shareholders today that the Hale group was "dealing in generalities" and had "no specific plan" for the bank's future.
"We know that the shareholders were deeply dissatisfied and wanted a change in direction," Comstock said. "The current board is doing exactly what you said you wanted done."
Also speaking, Hale attempted to assure shareholders that "your investments will be watched closely" if his group is allowed to take over the bank's management.
Hale also attempted to remind shareholders that if his group had not emerged to fight the bank's management, "they would have drifted along, business as usual."