Norcross group continues to buy Republic First stock, opposes Hill and allied board nominees

The dissident investor group led by George Norcross and former TD Bank CEO Greg Braca has increased its ownership stake in Republic First Bancorp Inc. and formally opposed the reappointment of CEO Vernon Hill and his allies to the bank board, it announced Thursday.

Norcross’ group, which also includes Norcross’ brother, Philip Norcross; Avery Conner Capital Trust; Susan D. Hudson; Geoffrey B. Hudson; and Rose M. Guida, now owns 9.6% of the parent of Republic Bank, it said in its latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing. It has steadily increased its stake throughout February.

The group said it would oppose the slate of director nominees that includes Hill, the founder of Commerce Bank, as well as Barry L. Spevak and Theodore J. Flocco Jr., at the next board meeting. It would instead support Driver Management Co. LLC’s nominees, including Peter B. Bartholomew, Pamela D. Bundy and Richard H. Sinkfield III.

The group noted it has not communicated with Driver, another major shareholder, and “has no intention of acting in concert with Driver on the proxy solicitation process or otherwise.”

Norcross and his allies hope to have Braca replace Hill as CEO, citing the stock’s underperformance as the reason a management change is needed.