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Soveriegn Bancorp


Chairman and CEO Jay Sidhu could be fighting for his job when the Philadelphia-based bank's board meets next week, a published report says.

A group of directors are seeking to oust the bank's controversial chief executive, says

The Wall Street Journal

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. The newspaper reports that seven of the bank's 12 directors have called a Tuesday meeting with an eye on firing Sidhu.

The possible move to oust Sidhu comes nearly a year after one of the bank's largest investors, Relational Investors, tried to block Soveriegn's sale of a 19.8% equity stake to Spain's Banco Santander. The deal with Santander was coupled with a plan to buy New York-based Independence Community Bank.

Relational failed in its attempt to block the deals. But the investment firm ultimately persuaded Soveriegn to add outside directors to its board.

Sidhu has never been a popular figure on Wall Street. Even though he has single-handily turned Soveriegn into a sizeable regional lender, many of his deals have come under fire.

Shares of Sovereign, which closed yesterday at $21.60, generally have underperformed its peers. But news that Sidhu could be on his way out could give the stock a jolt in Friday trading.

In premarket trading, shares were up $2.10, or 9.7%.