Magazine article American Banker

Independence CEO Says It's a Done Deal

Magazine article American Banker

Independence CEO Says It's a Done Deal

Article excerpt

Alan H. Fishman, the chief executive of Independence Community Bank Corp. in Brooklyn, N.Y., expressed confidence Wednesday that its sale to Sovereign Bancorp Inc. of Philadelphia is a done deal.

Shareholders threw their support behind it Wednesday morning. The sale of their company is an element in a three-party pact that has been dogged by controversy since it was announced in October.

Mr. Fishman was less clear when shareholders asked whether the price -- $3.6 billion in cash, or $42 a share -- is the best that his $19.1 billion-asset company could get. During a special shareholder meeting Wednesday morning in Brooklyn, he repeatedly sidestepped questions on whether he had seen better offers.

The board had routinely discussed the possibility of a sale over the years, he said, and when the $63.7 billion-asset Sovereign came calling "we had a pretty good sense what the market for all banks was at all times."

Independence is understood to have received several offers in 2004 -- from Washington Mutual Inc., the nation's largest thrift company, among others -- but no deal emerged. Neither Independence nor Wamu ever discussed the matter publicly.

In October, Sovereign said it would sell a 19.8% stake to the giant Banco Santander Central Hispano SA of Madrid and use the proceeds to buy Independence.

Sovereign was already embroiled in a dispute with its largest shareholder over corporate governance. Several institutional shareholders have vigorously opposed the three-party arrangement, which the company says it need not put to a shareholder vote. …

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