A group of 16 dissident shareholders led by Baltimore Blast owner Edwin F. Hale Sr. has apparently won control of Baltimore Bancorp, the parent company of the Bank of Baltimore.
A preliminary count released today shows that shareholders voted 5.3 million shares to 5 million shares for Hale's plan to enlarge Baltimore Bancorp's board of directors. The tally was supplied by Corporation Trust Co., the company that counted the ballots. However, bank management did not concede defeat and said it will carefully review the tally.
If upheld, the vote will enlarge the board from 18 to 28 positions, and the 10 additional seats will be filled by Hale supporters who ran unopposed for the prospective seats in May. With the six seats already held by the Hale group, the dissidents will have 16 of the 28 board positions.
"I've gained control of a bank without owning a lot of stock," Hale said today. "As I understand it, it's the first time in history that that has been done. I'm really proud of that, and I hope to do right by all the shareholders."
Hale said opponents had accused him of "ulterior motives" in his campaign. "But history will tell that I'm a true believer in what I'm doing," he said. "It may sound corny, but so what. Davy Crockett said, 'When you are sure you're right, go ahead.'"
Certification of the vote is expected tomorrow, and a board meeting is set for early next week. After other organizational matters are completed, employees will be contacted to reassure them that there will be no mass firings, Hale said.
However, Hale has said previously that he will move to unseat the 11 board members who are are currently backed by bank management.
Hale, who also owns trucking and barging companies, started his takeover attempt in March. But despite preliminary victories in May, the effort was tied up in court during the summer.