The Philadelphia Business Journal reported yesterday that, as part of their bid to force a leadership change at Republic First Bancorp, South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross and former TD Bank U.S. CEO Greg Braca have utilized an activist investor group to increase their shares in the bank from 6.6% to 7.8%.
Norcross personally owns 1.1% of the bank’s common stock and Braca owns 0.4%, while the remainder is owned by a trust managed in part by Norcross’s brother, Philip.
According to the Business Journal article, “neither [Vernon] Hill, the bank’s chairman and CEO, nor his representatives have had any comment on the news, which caused the bank’s stock price to rise by 20% in Tuesday trading – reaching its highest price in more than two years.”
Hill was the founder of Commerce Bank, where Norcross ran their insurance business. Part of the deal to sell Commerce to TD in 2007 was to allow Norcross to buy back the insurance arm. That became Connor Strong & Buckalew.
Earlier this week, the Norcross brothers and Braca released a letter calling for various changes at the Philadelphia-based bank, which they said has underperformed recently. The largest change the trio recommended was the hiring of Braca himself as the bank’s next CEO.
Norcross has long been one of the most powerful political figures in New Jersey, a power derived in no small part from the money his insurance brokerage career has allowed him to accumulate and spend on Democratic candidates. But the past year has witnessed a number of setbacks for Norcross, including the shocking loss of former Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and the revelation that Norcross no longer votes in New Jersey.