Norcross group angles to take control of Republic First

The investor group led by George Norcross and former TD Bank executive Greg Braca has issued a proposal to the board of directors of Republic First Bancorp Inc. that could eventually lead to the group taking over majority ownership, it announced Monday.

The proposal offers an injection of $50 million into operations at the parent of Philadelphia-based Republic Bank, through the purchase of nonvoting preferred stock. But it also offers to obtain a majority stake in the company through a subsequent purchase of common stock — giving the proposal a total investment of as much as $156 million.

The group currently owns 9.6% of the bank after first acquiring 6.6% ownership in January. It has asked the board for approval to exceed a 10% ownership stake without imposition of certain corporate restrictions, it noted.

The Norcross group’s leadership has also sued the bank, as well as four board members — including CEO Vernon Hill, the founder of Commerce Bank — over employment and compensation agreements that have divided the board’s membership, as well.