Banc of California's Board Shakeup Won't End Fight by CalSTRS Ally

Legion Partners Asset Management LLC, the activist investor allied with a California pension fund, isn't walking away from a push to install two directors at embattled Banc of California Inc. ( (BANC) ), despite the lender's appointment of two other major shareholders to its board.

While Legion considers the addition of W. Kirk Wycoff, the founder of Patriot Financial Partners LP, of Philadelphia, and Richard Lashley, the co-founder of Morristown, N.J.-based PL Capital LLC, to be positives, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based firm is continuing its own talks with the Irvine, Calif.-based bank, according to a person familiar with the campaign.

The ongoing push comes as Banc of California grapples with shareholder pressure to improve corporate governance following complaints over related-party transactions and allegations in a Seeking Alpha blog post last fall that the company had developed improper ties to notorious securities fraudster Jason Galanis. Last month, CEO Steven Sugarman stepped down amid a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the bank's original disclosures about its handling of the Galanis claim.

Legion, which said in a January joint filing with the California State Teachers Retirement System, or CalSTRS, that the company should consider selling itself because governance concerns are overshadowing its operational performance, holds a stake of 6.6%, valued at about $67 million. 

The firm escalated its campaign this month with the nomination of Roger Ballou, a director at Univest Corp., and Marjorie Bowen, a director of ShoreTel Inc. who previously was a banker at Houlihan Lokey Inc. to the company's seven-member board.

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