Atlantic Coast Federal Corporation (NASDAQ:ACFC), the holding company for Atlantic Coast Bank, today announced that it has named Jay Sidhu Executive Chairman, succeeding former Chairman Charles E. Martin, Jr. Martin remains a member of the Board and will now serve as Lead Independent Director. In his new role, Sidhu will be responsible for the overall business objectives and strategic direction of the Company. The Board also named Forrest W. Sweat, Jr., a director and a partner in the law firm of Walker & Sweat in Waycross, Georgia, as Vice-Chairman of the Board.
Commenting on the announcement, Robert J. Larison, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Since joining our Board in March, Jay has energized our efforts to attract new capital and explore strategic opportunities. Considering his strong track record in banking and public company experience, which demonstrates his capabilities in these areas, we believe he is ideally suited to lead our company and Board as we work to lay a solid groundwork for future growth. At the same time, we are fortunate to have Eddy Martin take on the role of Lead Independent Director. As Lead Independent Director, he will contribute to our continued efforts to fulfill our corporate governance responsibilities to stockholders and will serve as principal liaison between the independent directors and the Chairman of the Board on sensitive issues."
Sidhu added a further comment: "Since joining the Board of Atlantic Coast Federal Corporation, it has become apparent to me that the Company has dealt swiftly and aggressively with its credit quality challenges and is positioned now to turn the corner to begin taking advantage of several business opportunities. First, however, it must strengthen its capital position, and that will be one of my first areas of focus."
Sidhu is currently Chairman and CEO of Customers 1st Bank, headquartered in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and also is Chairman and CEO of Sidhu Advisors, LLC, a financial services consulting company. Previously, Sidhu served as Chairman and CEO of Philadelphia-based Sovereign Bank, where he was employed from 1986 until 2006. Under his leadership, Sovereign Bank grew from a small thrift with less than $1 billion in assets to a nearly $90 billion institution, with a branch network of 800 locations serving customers from Maryland to New Hampshire.