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HopFed Bancorp directors fire back at Stilwell

Hopkinsville, Ky.-based HopFed Bancorp Inc. called out activist investor Joseph Stilwell for his "scurrilous public attacks," calling Stilwell's "insulting, degrading and destructive personal attacks" against President and CEO John Peck "an ongoing distraction detrimental to the organization."

In November 2016, Stilwell's investor group sent a letter to the company which called for Peck to resign, alleging that the executive received a "bloated pay package" despite the company's poor performance. Furthermore, Stilwell's letter suggested that Peck's next letter to shareholders should be "a resignation," which would give shareholders "something to smile about."

In a Jan. 25 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 directors also argued that Peck's compensation package is in the 34th percentile of peers.

"In simple terms, this means 2/3 of all peer group CEOs are paid more than ours is — this could hardly be characterized as 'a bloated pay package,'" the directors wrote, also pointing out that Stilwell's representative in the board was among those who approved Peck's compensation.