NEW CANAAN, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rangeley Capital LLC, a long-term shareholder of First United Corporation (NASDAQ: FUNC) (“First United” or the “Company”), announced it has sent a letter to First United’s Board of Directors asking for concrete steps to unlock value for all of its shareholders.
Below is the full text of the letter.
Chairman of the Board
First United Corporation
19 South Second Street
Oakland, MD 21550
Rangeley Capital LLC (“Rangeley”) is a sizable, long-term shareholder of First United Corporation (“First United” or the “Company”). Our purchases of First United date back to 2015. As a patient, long-term investor, I find the Company’s approach towards recent shareholder engagement to be distressing. It is illogical for the Board of Directors (the “Board”) to continue assessing First United’s current strategy without also exploring an outright sale of the Company on a parallel track. Testing the waters does no harm to First United now that speculation already exists in the marketplace.
Shareholders including Rangeley have long believed there is a significant amount of underappreciated value buried within First United’s underperforming shares. The market’s favorable reaction this year to one of your largest shareholder’s calls for a sale only reinforces this belief. Rangeley also believes that a sale price of approximately $30 per share is very achievable in this market. Despite the views expressed by the Company’s owners, however, you and the Board have failed to articulate a credible strategy for delivering that value.
To make matters worse, you now appear to be burying your heads in the sand in hopes that shareholders’ enthusiasm for a sale will fade. As I articulated in my recent communication with you, I was alarmed to see the company plan a “distracting and costly public campaign” to thwart an investor requesting the Board consider a path to unlock a significant undervaluation of the shares.
The Board has an opportunity to potentially unlock the significant strategic value in the Company. The stock price performance this year should be a clear indication to the Board that the market believes a sales process is a superior path forward to the current standalone strategy. Although I would love to be pleasantly surprised by an iron-clad strategy that positions First United to dramatically increase its profitability as a standalone entity, I see no reason to delay the formal exploration of an outright sale of the Company. It is long past time to show shareholders what an alternative path offers.
Rather than answer just Rangeley at this point, please simply make public the Board’s proposed plan for delivering as a standalone company and—in tandem—commit to running a sale process led by expert professionals. How else can the Board and shareholders make an informed decision on how best to move forward? Please also avoid spending a penny of shareholders’ capital on external legal and financial advisors if they are employed to simply dispute calls for a sale.
Chris DeMuth Jr.
Rangeley Capital (www.rangeleycapital.com) is a value-oriented, event-driven investment manager that focuses on exploiting durable inefficiencies in financial markets with a wide margin of safety.