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Investor group wants Banc of California to consider possible sale

The following is a summary of recent activist investor news from the bank and thrift space. Each company "in play" is listed along with the activist group and that group's ownership stake in the company, where applicable.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co.

Jan. 29: The Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo is resisting a few shareholder proposals demanding details in connection with its fake-accounts scandal. The company has requested the Securities and Exchange Commission to exclude several duplicate proposals out of its proxy statement, while their filers argue there are differences in terms of accountability demanded in connection with the fake-accounts scandal.

***

Hopkinsville, Ky.-based HopFed Bancorp Inc.

Investor: Stilwell Group, et al., 9.5%.

Jan. 27: In a letter attached to a Schedule 13D, Joseph Stilwell claimed that HopFed Bancorp President and CEO John Peck offered him "greenmail" twice when offering to meet with him. In an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Peck said that he was both "surprised and disappointed" by the multiple rejections to hash out the activist investor's concerns.

Jan 25: In a letter attached to a Form 8-K filing, HopFed's independent directors said the Stilwell group refused to meet with Peck, despite several attempts to arrange talks. The company called out Stilwell for his "scurrilous public attacks," calling his "insulting, degrading and destructive personal attacks" against President and CEO John Peck "an ongoing distraction detrimental to the organization."

***

Irvine, Calif.-based Banc of California Inc.

Investor: Legion Partners LLC, 6.3%

Jan. 24: In a Schedule 13D filing, the investor group called for the appointment of new independent directors to Banc of California's board, as well as for the company to review all strategic alternatives, including a possible sale.

***

Jefferson City, Mo.-based Hawthorn Bancshares Inc.

Investor: Jonathan Holtaway, et al., 6.3%

Jan. 13: In a letter addressed to the company, Jonathan Holtaway's investor group indicated that it would put forward a shareholder proposal to require that the chairman of the board be an independent director.

***

Wooster, Ohio-based Wayne Savings Bancshares Inc.

Investor: Stilwell Group, et al., 9.7%.

Jan. 9: Activist investor Joseph Stilwell is putting forward Stephen Burchett as a nominee for election to the board of Wayne Savings Bancshares, with Mark Alcott serving as alternate nominee.

***

Liberty, Mo.-based CCSB Financial Corp.

Investor: Park GP Inc., 12%

Jan. 4: Park GP Inc. is seeking shareholder votes for the investor's nomination of David Johnson and DeAnn Totta to CCSB Financial's board.