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Sparks stockholders OK takeover


Stockholders of Sparks State Bank overwhelmingly approved yesterday a takeover by Mercantile Bankshares Corp. of Baltimore, ending Kenneth T. Bosley's hopes of keeping the Baltimore County bank independent.

Mr. Bosley, son of a former president of the bank, didn't own enough shares to change the outcome: 83 percent of stockholders voted in favor, according to Sparks attorney James J. Winn Jr. of Piper & Marbury. Approximately 13 percent of the stockholders did not vote.

Mr. Bosley could not be reached for comment after the vote.

Three other stockholders who objected to the deal -- for other reasons -- lost their last-minute legal effort to block the vote at the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company building.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes denied the three stockholders' motion for a preliminary injunction yesterday. The stockholders sued in April because they wanted the board of Sparks to seek other, possibly more lucrative offers.

"The case is not over," said the stockholders' attorney, Charles J. Piven. He declined to elaborate.

The deal with Mercantile calls for Sparks' 569 stockholders to exchange each of their shares for 2.33 shares of Mercantile stock, which were worth $55.34 based on yesterday's closing price of $23.75 a share.

Mr. Winn said the next step is to seek approval of the state bank commissioner and the Federal Reserve Board.

Sparks is a small, profitable bank with five offices in the county. Mercantile is the biggest bank holding company still headquartered in Maryland. Mercantile's offer was 96 percent higher than Sparks' book value.

But Mr. Bosley has said he saw no reason to sell.

"It's part of the community," he said. "Why sell out to a larger institution that's not part of Baltimore County?"

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