An independent company has weighed in on the shareholder dispute at the parent company of Anchor Bank, urging shareholders to vote in favor of management’s proposals instead of those proposed by Joel Lawson IV, a major shareholder in the company.
The annual shareholder meeting is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE.
Lawson of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, who owns about 9 percent of Lacey-based Anchor Bancorp, feels the company has underperformed, relative to its banking peers.
After Lawson delivered a letter to shareholders earlier this month — in which he outlined his concerns about Anchor Bancorp and his desire to be elected to the board to spur change — ISS Proxy Advisory Services issued a release late last week.
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ISS said it believes that change on the board is not needed because of “the steady progress that (Anchor Bancorp) has made since its IPO in 2011 and (because) the company successfully completed its mutual to stock conversion, has returned to profitability and has improved its capital position.”
ISS also recommends that shareholders vote for the company’s board nominees, Douglas Kay, George Donovan and Terri Degner.
“We’re quite pleased they saw fit to endorse our board members,” Anchor President and Chief Executive Jerry Shaw said Monday. He also described ISS as a well-known and respected company that works with large investors, including mutual funds, and not just in banking.
But Lawson remains undeterred because he followed the ISS announcement with one of his own, saying the company should immediately form a special committee to explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company.
“The capital markets for bank M&A are open; this may not be the case in 2-3 years,” Lawson said in a statement. “I believe not fully exploring a potential sale of the company now is doing a disservice to shareholders.”
Lawson, though, faces an uphill battle because Anchor Bancorp requires that board members be Washington state residents.
“If I am elected a director by the stockholders, and the board continues to refuse to waive the residency requirement, in my view, that would clearly mean that the board is refusing to heed the stockholders’ will,” Lawson said earlier this month.
On Monday, Anchor’s stock, which trades under the ticker symbol ANCB, fell three cents to close at $22.78 a share. But shareholders have benefited from a stock that has climbed 4.7 percent in the past month, likely pushed higher by the chatter of a possible sale.
In the past 52 weeks, the stock has ranged from $19.80 a share to $23.85 a share.