Edwin F. Hale Sr., the scrappy entrepreneur who took on a venerable Baltimore institution, has claimed his fruits of victory with his election as chairman of Baltimore Bancorp.
Hale took over the helm of the parent company of the Bank of Baltimore yesterday at the first meeting of the new board of directors dominated by Hale allies. The board also elected Charles H. "Buck" Whittum Jr., a retired executive of Signet Bank/Maryland, as chief executive officer of the fifth largest banking operation in Maryland.
At the same meeting, six of the remaining nine holdover directors resigned. During the proxy fight, Hale had said he would take steps to remove directors who had supported the old management.
The three remaining directors from the old board are F. Barton Harvey Jr., the retired chairman of Alex. Brown Inc., a Baltimore investment banking firm; Martin L. Millspaugh, president of the Enterprise International Development Co., a commercial real estate developer in Columbia; and Thomas H. Sherlock, who was president of Blue Cross of Maryland from 1973 to 1984.
"It's good that former members stay on the board in order to provide some continuity and whatever value their previous experience can offer," Sherlock, 67, said yesterday, adding that he has been on the board for 15 years and understands the bank and the banking industry.
"I'll stay on the board as long as they want me and I can make a contribution," Sherlock said. Hale asked Sherlock to stay on the board, he said.
John C. Haigh, one of the directors who resigned, will remain as president and chief operating officer of the company, a position he has held since 1987.
Hale, the owner of the Baltimore Blast indoor soccer team as well as trucking and barging companies, waged a six-month proxy fight to win the support of a majority of Baltimore Bancorp shareholders.
"With the proxy contest finally behind us, it's time to move forward together in the best interests of the bank and all of its constituencies," Hale said in a prepared statement.
"I am especially pleased that Buck Whittum, our new CEO, will now have the opportunity to accept the challenge bestowed upon him by the board and the stockholders," he said.
Hale and Whittum replace Robert F. Comstock, who was both chairman and chief executive officer. Comstock, a Washington attorney, also resigned from the board. He had only held the top positions at the bank since June 27 when the board removed Harry L. Robinson, the previous head of the company.
The board meeting comes two days after the certification of a shareholders' vote that put Hale and 15 allies on the board.
The vote enlarged the bank holding company's board from 18 to 28 positions. The 10 additional seats were filled by Hale supporters who ran unopposed for the prospective seats in May.
Six directors were already supporters of Hale, so his group now has 16 seats. With three holdovers, the board has 19 members. (( There are no plans to fill the nine vacancies, according to a company release.
The 10 new members of the board are Barry B. Bondroff, Paul G. Hays, Melvin S. Kabik, Thomas T. Koch, R. Andrew Larkin Jr., Herbert F. Lee, Robert A. Pascal, Dennis S. Rasmussen, G. Gregory Russell and David D. Smith.