Sovereign vs. Relational: Wham! Bam! Crash!

This public tussle between Sovereign Bancorp and investors at San Diego-based Relational Investors keeps getting better and better. The latest: Duelling interpretations of a pro-Sovereign column in American Banker. While Sovereign sees it as a ringing endorsement of its actions, Relational rightly points out that the employer of the author of said column has received millions in fees from Sovereign:

We believe Sovereign is required by securities laws immediately to inform all Sovereign shareholders, and the other market participants it sought to influence with these communications, that Ryan Beck has long-standing and multi-faceted business ties with Sovereign. Ryan Beck has served as an advisor to Sovereign on several acquisitions, as an advisor to companies acquired by Sovereign, as a primary underwriter of Sovereign’s preferred capital securities, as a market maker for Sovereign’s trust preferred securities, and is currently a market maker for Sovereign’s common shares. These business ties stretch back more than a decade. Just in the last 36 months, Ryan Beck has received over $20 million from these business ties. This information was gathered from public records and does not take into account fees and commissions that would not have been subject to public disclosure requirements. Over $19 million in the last 18 months is attributable to serving as an advisor to companies acquired by Sovereign and with respect to which Ryan Beck issued fairness opinions evaluating Sovereign’s common stock.

Oh, that.