Independence Federal Savings Bank shareholders, voting for three open board seats, elected two management-nominated directors and one by dissident shareholder Morton A. Bender, according to a statement issued last night by the District thrift.
The official vote tally, which tracked closely with what Independence insiders predicted soon after the annual meeting Wednesday, means Independence's current management will have five directors on its side on the nine-member board, with four who are opposed to management.
Bender had nominated two directors to the city's only black-owned savings and loan. Management and the majority of the board had urged shareholders to reject his nominees, arguing that his two directors, combined with two existing Bender representatives and a fifth, independent, director who shares Bender's views, would have wrested control of the historically black-controlled thrift. Bender is white.
Bender owns 21 percent of Independence, making him the largest shareholder. But a group of black shareholders with large stakes, including New Orleans investment banker Harold E. Doley Jr. and prominent D.C. accountant Jeffrey Thompson, agreed to support the management nominees earlier this week, giving the management slate a bare majority.
Bender's attorneys, who had challenged aspects of the shareholder vote Wednesday, could not be reached for comment last night. Neither could Independence chief executive Thomas L. Batties.
Reelected to the board were management nominees William B. Fitzgerald IV and David W. Wilmot. Bender nominee John Silvanus Wilson Jr. was elected. Independence said that of 4,270,680 votes cast, Fitzgerald received 1,439,155, Wilmot received 1,412,322 and Wilson 1,390,246.
Shareholders also voted on whether to create a holding company for Independence, an ownership structure that is standard for most banks and thrifts and allows for greater flexibility in raising capital and pursuing mergers. However, while the measure received a majority of votes, it did not get the two-thirds required for it to be enacted, Independence said in a statement.
Bender had said he would vote against the holding-company proposal.