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Royal Bancshares adds two to its board

The Narberth bank holding company named two men as directors after a year that saw five other board members step down.

Royal Bancshares of Pennsylvania Inc., which has lost money for seven straight quarters, is getting some board help.

The Narberth-based bank holding company last week added Michael J. Piracci, who retired from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2004, and Jay H. Shah, chief executive officer of Hersha Hospitality Trust, which owns interests in 76 hotels and operates from offices in Philadelphia.

Bringing Piracci onto the board is probably a good move for Royal, which has been hurt by losses on its loans and investments. The holding company and its main Royal Bank America subsidiary have been operating under certain restrictions imposed by federal and state banking regulators beginning last summer.

Adding Shah and Piracci brings Royal's total number of board members to 12. And the board certainly looks different from a year ago when it had 15 members. Only 10 remain from that group.

Royal Bancshares lost three directors to retirement as of the end of 2009: Carl M. Cousins, a retired veterinarian; Albert Ominsky, a lawyer; and Evelyn R. Tabas, the mother of current CEO Robert R. Tabas. The company's most recent proxy statement says its bylaws require board members to resign as of the last day of the calendar year in which they turn 75.

Robert A. Richards Jr., the former president of Whitesell Construction Co., resigned from the board Aug. 18. In a letter filed with the SEC, Richards wrote he'd been "frustrated" that his recommendations and suggestions had not been "given serious consideration" since he'd joined the board in May 2008.

Finally, Joseph P. Campbell, Royal Bancshares' former CEO, left the board last May when he chose not to stand for re-election.

Profit Rebound

I always take surveys with a spoonful of salt, because what people say tends to be different from what they do.

Still, when the executives who sit on the audit committees of area companies start sounding optimistic, well, it's worth trying to figure out why.

The Audit Committee Institute of KPMG L.L.P. does regular surveys, and in its most recent one, 58 percent of the business leaders said they expect their company's profits to rise moderately this year.

When I told Jerry Maginnis, KPMG's Philadelphia office managing partner, that most readers would probably rather hear that job creation was expected to rise rather than profits, he certainly sympathized.

However, he said, increasing profitability is the key to management deciding to press forward with investing new products and possible acquisitions. Those are growth strategies, Maginnis said.

And if companies are beginning to pursue them, then that's a good sign the economy is on the rebound.

Annual Meetings

Monday: ViroPharma;

Tuesday: Healthcare Services Group, Merck & Co., SEI Investments;

Wednesday: Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings;

Thursday: Lincoln National;

Friday: GSI Commerce.