Vineyard National Bancorp sets Aug. 5 shareholder meeting

   Finally, the date has arrived.
   Corona-based Vineyard National Bancorp, the holding company for Vineyard Bank, announced Thursday evening that its much-anticipated 2008 annual shareholder meeting is set for Aug. 5.
   Vineyard also said that its discussions with a “third party” to recapitalize the bank’s capital levels has been “terminated.”
   The cash-strapped bank has been on the prowl for more money because it made loans to developers who can’t repay what they borrowed.
   The bank’s stock closed at $4.17 on Friday — just a fraction of its $32.82-value spike recorded in mid-2005.
   What Vineyard didn’t mention is its heated proxy battle ongoing between the company and former CEO Norman Morales.
   After Morales was fired in January and cut a check for $1.15 million and other severence benefits, he resigned from the board of directors.
   It’s a fair bet he’ll nominate his own board-of-director candidates at the shareholder meeting this August. Jon Salmanson, a major shareholder, is backing Morales.
   The bank’s financial reports show portfolio deterioration on construction loans issued between 2005 and 2007, a period when Morales was CEO.
   Because of the bank’s “troubled condition” — a designation given to Vineyard by the Federal Reserve Board in May — Morales’s nominations are subject to approval by both the Fed and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, D.C.
   Vineyard was in danger of being delisted from the Nasdaq and AMEX stock exchanges in May, but it soon regained compliance with listing requirements.
   At the same time, Orange County hotel mogul B.U. Patel purchased 600,000 shares of Vineyard stock — a 5-percent stake — for almost $1.9 million, according to filings made with the Securities Exchange Commission.
   The bank’s connection with the Inland Empire’s real-estate mess is still emerging as it reports millions of dollars in loan losses.
   Experts disagree over whether Vineyard is looking to be bought out by another financial holding company or looking for a private equity firm to come to its rescue.
   Some private equity firms possibly in the market for small debt-ridden banks include San Francisco-based Belvedere Capital, Cincinnati-based Financial Stocks LLF, and New York-based CapGen Capital Advisors.
matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

To see Vineyard’s latest news release and view a snapshot of the company, visit: http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=VNBC

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