Magazine article American Banker

Ill. Thrift Shareholder Sees Red over CEO's 30% Raise

Magazine article American Banker

Ill. Thrift Shareholder Sees Red over CEO's 30% Raise

Article excerpt

A dissident shareholder of a $308 million-asset thrift company has raised the stakes in a bitter proxy fight by hurling barbs at the chief executive over his 30% pay raise.

Barrett R. Rochman, a southern Illinois real estate investor who controls about 5.8% of Olney-based Community Financial Corp.'s stock, fired this latest salvo in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing about a week ago.

Mr. Rochman, who hopes to win board seats for himself and fellow dissident Michael B. Nadler at the company's shareholder meeting on April 27, chided Community Financial president and chief executive officer Wayne H. Benson, who made $100,000 in 1999, for taking a $30,000 pay raise this year. Mr. Benson has said that he has been disappointed with the company's performance.

"Do you think Community Financial would be able to afford Mr. Benson's pay raises in the event he ever becomes happy with the financial results of our company?" Mr. Rochman said in the SEC filing.

Mr. Benson did not return phone calls. However, in a March 3 letter to shareholders filed with the SEC, he urged investors to side with the company in the proxy fight.

"Your board of directors deeply regrets that Mr. Rochman has started what promises to be an expensive and distracting proxy contest," Mr. Benson wrote. He said the board is committed to "maximizing shareholder value."

The proxy battle could soon spill into the courtroom.

In early March, Mr. Rochman filed suit against Community Financial seeking board meeting minutes that the company had refused to give him. …

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