Ordinarily, the resignation of a director of a small South Philadelphia savings bank wouldn’t merit much notice.
But when a vocal investor has campaigned for the director’s removal and it happens, that gets my attention.
John P. Judge submitted his resignation on June 5 from the board of Prudential Bancorp Inc. of Pennsylvania. (This bank has nothing to do with the big insurer.) The resignation takes effect as of the June 18 board meeting.
In a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Prudential said Judge indicated that his health and his spouse’s weighed into his decision to resign.
But also he did so, the filing says, “to avoid the expense and unpleasantness” involved in defending himself against allegations made by Prudential’s largest shareholder.
Joseph Stilwell, an activist investor in New York, owns more than 1 million shares, or nearly 10 percent of Prudential. For nearly three years, he’s been seeking a greater say in how the bank is run. He launched a proxy fight in December asking shareholders to withhold votes for Prudential’s directors.
In May, Stilwell demanded in an SEC filing that Judge “resign or be removed because he is no longer able to perform his duties as a director due to serious illness.”
Judge, who’s been a director since 1983, was listed as 87 years old in the bank’s most recent proxy statement. The five other current board members are all over the age of 69.
Prudential accepted Judge’s resignation, but then appointed him director emeritus, as of July 1, citing “his valued service” over the last 25 years. In return, Judge will get $500 per month as well as continued health and life insurance.
Stilwell isn’t just singling out Prudential. His various funds have acquired stakes greater than 5 percent in more than a dozen other publicly held companies. He tends to take aim at publicly traded banks that use a mutual holding company structure to control the organization while owning very few shares.
The latest local bank to come onto his radar? Malvern Federal Bancorp Inc., which began trading May 20. Ten days later, Stilwell disclosed that his funds own 565,000 shares, or 9.2 percent of Malvern Federal.