WARREN - First Place Bank customers have no reason to be concerned about the bank following Friday's termination of its chief executive, Steven R. Lewis, the chairman of the company and bank boards said.
"We're FDIC insured," Samuel Roth said, referring to the government's Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. "We have great liquidity and great earnings as we go along. Things are going well."
The boards of First Place Financial Corp. and First Place Bank announced Lewis' termination Friday after the close of stock markets with a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
No severance arrangements have been entered into with the terminations, according to the filing.
A recording on a cell phone for Lewis said no messages could be left because the mailbox was full.
The boards said they are identifying and evaluating candidates to fill the positions. Any selected candidate will be subject to prior regulatory review and approval.
The Lewis file
Steven R. Lewis joined then-First Federal Savings and Loan of Warren in 1983, and served as chief financial officer from 1985 to 1995.
He was executive vice president from 1995 to 1997 before taking over as president in January 1997 at age 38 from retiring Paul Watson. The savings and loan had $538 million in assets at the time before growing to $2.2 billion in 2005.
Lewis steered the thrift through its conversion to a public stock company with an initial public offering Jan. 4, 1999, when it opened trading on the Nasdaq at $11.39 per share.
Shares hit $25.94 in January 2006. It closed Friday down 2 cents to 59 cents per share.
Roth said the boards are open to all applicants, inside or outside the company.
The bank is getting closer to finishing financial restatements, Roth said, although he declined to give a time frame.
"We've given them before, and there have been delays," he said.
But he said officials are "confident things will be better soon. We should have restatements before very long."
The company was delisted from the Nasdaq in November after failing to file quarterly and annual financial statements and restatements dating back to its Sept. 30, 2007, quarter due to adjustments in the company's allowance for loan losses.
The losses stem largely from its 2005 acquisition of Southfield, Mich., based Franklin Bancorp. The purchase made First Place Ohio's largest publicly traded thrift with $2.2 billion in assets, but it also saddled the bank with millions of loans that went sour during the global credit crisis that struck in 2007 and worsened through 2008.
In 2009, First Place took $75 million from the federal government's Troubled Assets Relief Program program provide capital to increase lending.
The company in February 2011, began operating under a supervisory agreement with Office of Thrift Supervision, which said First Place has engaged in "unsafe or unsound practices."
It consented in July to cease-and-desist orders from OTS to find ways to strengthen bank Tier 1 capital ratio to at least 8.5 percent and a total risk-based capital ratio of at least 12 percent by Dec. 31, as well as restate 2009 and 2010 fiscal year earnings, which it failed to do.