"There is a time to sow, and a time to reap," and it's time to pass her day job and titles to the next generation, Betsy Zubrow Cohen, 72, said Tuesday, quoting Ecclesiastes and confirming that she is retiring as chief executive and chairman of the Bancorp Inc., the $4 billion-asset Wilmington-and Philadelphia-based company she started after selling Jefferson Bank way back in 1999.
Cohen is matriarch of a Philadelphia dynasty invested in three cyclical industries: energy (husband Ed heads the Atlas group of oil, gas, and pipeline companies); real estate (son Jonathan is chief executive of Resource Capital Corp. and its affiliates), and finance (son Daniel, an investment banker prominent in the mid-2000s mortgage-bond frenzy, will succeed Mom as Bancorp's chairman when she steps down at year's end.)
Her longtime lieutenant, Frank Mastrangelo, will take over as the bank's chief executive.
Wall Street cheered: Shares of Bancorp rose almost 7 percent, to close at $9.34.
The stock is still down more than half from its high of $20 and change last winter. Bancorp, whose mix of payment-card, accounts-management, and specialty-lending businesses has puzzled investors looking for simple bets, is laboring under a federal money-laundering-compliance consent order, among other constraints. Fans hope these several businesses may yet be sold at a premium, some day.
In the 1970s, Cohen founded Jefferson Bank and used it to help finance some of the players in Philadelphia's restaurant renaissance, among other emerging businesses. It was sold to a predecessor of today's TD Bank in 1999.
She is done with day-to-day management. "But it is not so easy to get rid of me," Cohen added: She'll be paid as an adviser for the next two years.
Shares of historically depositor-owned Beneficial Mutual Bancorp, the largest bank still based in Philadelphia, fell 4 percent to close at $12.78 Tuesday, after the bank said eligible depositors and employees had signed up to buy fewer than the 55 million shares the company had targeted in its plan to convert to 100 percent shareholder ownership.
"A lot of people don't want to buy bank stocks right now," given low U.S. interest rates and slow loan growth that makes it tough to boost profits, veteran local-stock watcher Robert Costello, of Costello Asset Management, Huntingdon Valley, said.
Beneficial did sign up buyers for the minimum 46.75 million shares it needs to go through with the sale. But given that relatively low interest (it was prepared to sell up to 63.25 million shares), Beneficial says its underwriters, led by Sandler O'Neill + Partners, will not conduct a "firm commitment" share sale.
In firm-commitment sales, investment bankers typically agree to buy any stock not purchased by other investors. That gives buyers more confidence the shares will hold and gain value. Without that firm commitment, companies typically run a "best offer" sale that can leave some shares unsold, dragging down the stock's value.
I called Beneficial to ask why its customers were a little shy. A recorded message urged customers to ignore the "fraudulent text messages" they have been receiving.
"It's been one episode after another," chief executive Gerry Cuddy said, adding that bigger banks have faced similar digital attacks. He said Beneficial had not lost customer financial information to the attackers.
Cuddy would not talk about the share sale plans, citing SEC rules. Beneficial owners will vote on the proposed sale Dec. 15.