South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross and former TD Bank CEO Greg Braca sent a letter today to the Republic First Bancorp Board of Directors requesting that they be allowed to exceed a 10% ownership stake in the bank without triggering certain restrictions. Currently, the group led by the two men controls 9.6% of the bank’s stock.
The request is the latest part of a monthlong bid by Norcross and Braca to reshape the bank in their image. In January, the group announced that they collectively possessed 6.6% of the bank’s shares, making them the largest non-institutional, non-insider shareholders, and said that they wanted to see certain changes instituted.
“We are of the opinion that the Company’s depressed stock performance over several years is directly attributable to weak operating results, including return on assets and return on capital of less than half that of its peers and efficiency ratios and cost of funds for its deposits running higher than industry norms,” they wrote.
The most significant change Norcross and Braca are advocating for is the installment of Braca himself as Republic First’s CEO. The current CEO is Vernon Hill, who has a long history with Norcross; the Norcross-led coalition filed notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission two weeks ago opposing Hill’s renomination as chairman.