South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross and former TD Bank CEO Greg Braca, who have formed a coalition to reshape the Philadelphia-based bank Republic First Bancorp, filed a lawsuit today against Republic First chairman Vernon Hill and three members of the bank’s board of directors.
The lawsuit alleges that Hill and his allies on the board engaged in “unlawful actions to interfere with shareholders’ voting rights [and] entrench current leadership.”
Norcross and Braca began their attempted takeover of Republic First in January, when they issued a letter castigating the bank for underperforming and making a number of recommendations, chief among them that Braca be installed as CEO.
Norcross, Braca, and Norcross’ brother Philip collectively owned 6.6% of Republic First’s shares at the beginning of the process, already making them the bank’s largest non-institutional, non-insider shareholders; since then, they have increased those holdings to 9.6% and filed a letter two weeks ago requesting that they be allowed to exceed a 10% cap.
The coalition has also filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission to unseat Hill and two of his allies. Hill and Norcross have a history preceding this year: Hill founded Commerce Bank, which served as the base of Norcross’ power until it was sold to TD Bank in 2007.