New Jersey State Investment Council Chairman Orin Kramer sent a letter today to Richard Ketchum, chief regulatory officer of the New York Stock Exchange, calling the proposed three-bank deal between Sovereign Bancorp Inc., Grupo Santander and Independence Community Bank Corp. "a parody of NYSE rules and regulations."
In the letter, Mr. Kramer said the deal "should be rejected or subjected to a shareholder vote before our ownership interests are irretrievably diluted." The investment council oversees the state's $70 billion public pension fund, reported holding 500,000 shares of Sovereign Bancorp.
"We believe that the transactions are in compliance with all applicable rules," a Sovereign spokesman said in an interview.
Under the deal, announced Oct. 24, Santander agreed to acquire a $2.4 billion stake in Sovereign through a purchase of about 90 million shares, making it the bank's largest shareholder. Simultaneously, Sovereign agreed to acquire Independence Community Bank for $42 per share, or $3.6 billion.
The NYSE's Mr. Ketchum was not available for comment.