UPDATE from my column in today's print Inquirer:
Bargain-hunter Wilbur Ross's investment in Vineland's Sun Bancorp "helped rescue [Sun chairman Bernard] Brown and his four children, all Sun directors, who own a third of the bank's stock... [In April federal regulators] ordered Sun to stop paying dividends until it raised more capital. The government 'found unsafe and unsound banking practices'..."
Ross told me he'll share control with the Browns, and denies he's trying to create a bargain banking empire that would resemble his hugely profitable consolidation of the U.S. steel industry. Read the column here.
Brown's family runs NFI (National Freight), a nearly $1 billion (yearly sales) trucking and warehouse business based in Cherry Hill. It's also a major landlord in Vineland. Sun branches are concentrated in central and southern New Jersey; the company tried to enter Philadelphia and Wilmington, but has mostly retreated. The bank became nationally famous, briefly, when it returned federal TARP money at a loss after it became clear that keeping it would force the bank to limit executive pay and accept other restrictions.
Sun (which sponsors Trenton's minor-league-sized arena) needs the money. Writes a veteran Sun employee: "The [federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] is coming down on Sun... People have been let go... The stock is almost at an alltime low... "
Comments from Ross and Sun's turnaround CEO, Tom Geisel, among others, in my column in tomorrow's Inquirer.