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Bank Activist Seidman Makes New Deposit

Bank activist Larry Seidman has moved on to his next target, Fox Chase Bancorp, based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The bank will certainly know exactly who Seidman is and they’ll know how most of his investments usually turn out.

Bank activist Larry Seidman has moved on to his next target.

The Parsippany, New Jersey, hedge fund manager said in a regulatory filing that he owns 7 percent of Fox Chase Bancorp, which operates 11 branches in Pennsylvania and nearby New Jersey.

The filing, which resembles most of the previous ones Seidman has filed with other small banks, says the stock is undervalued and represents an attractive investment opportunity. It also states in the future Seidman may take additional actions, including communications with management and the Board of Directors, speaking with third parties, making proposals to the company about possible changes to the capitalization, ownership structure or its operations, or seeking representation on the Board.

He also warns that he has previously nominated individuals for election to the boards of directors and has engaged in election and proxy contests with a number of publicly traded companies, and may do in this case as well.

This is the second small bank for which Seidman has filed an initial 13-D in the past three months. Back in December, we reported, he filed a 13-D with the Securities and Exchange announcing he owned 5.57 percent of the shares of Colonial Financial Services, a small Vineland, NJ, bank holding company for Colonial Bank FSB with eight branches.

And Seidman doesn’t bluff.

Last November he had said he would launch a proxy fight against Abington Bancorp. Sure enough on January 7, 2011, he said he planned to nominate two candidates at the 2012 Annual Meeting against the company's candidates. Less than three weeks later, Abington agreed to be acquired by Susquehanna Bancshares for $273 million.

Siedman, 63, has been buying undervalued banks and thrifts since 1983 that are generally selling below tangible book value and tries to encourage them to either sell to another institution or at least repurchase their shares.

He is a former attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission and for more than the past 12 years has been the manager of various investment vehicles, principally involved in the purchase and sale of publicly traded bank and thrift stocks. From November 1991 to December 31, 2005, he was also a consultant, President and General Counsel to Menlo Acquisition Corp, a holding company for an environmental consulting and remediation company and a laboratory company.

Going back to 1995, Seidman has been involved in at least 34 activist situations with small banks, according to regulatory filings. He has initiated or been a part of about a dozen proxy fights and more than 20 of the bank companies were acquired by another institution after Seidman took a position.

He has also sat on the Board of Directors of at least six of the companies, while associates of his sat on the Boards of a number of other companies.

A Fox Chase representative did not return a call to comment. But you can be sure they know exactly who Seidman is, what is motivations are, and how most of his investments usually turn out.

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