Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

Bremer Bank sues Otto Bremer Trust in bid to prevent 'hostile takeover'

The bank is accusing three trustees of disloyalty.
Author:
Grand Forks Photo New Signs

The power struggle between Bremer Bank and the philanthropic foundation that controls it is getting increasingly ugly, with the bank filing a lawsuit against the Otto Bremer Trust in a bid to forestall a "hostile takeover."

Bremer Financial Corporation has filed a lawsuit against the three trustees Otto Bremer Trust, who it is accusing of attempting to facilitate the sale of the bank against the wishes of its board of directors.

Last month, Bremer Financial says the trust announced its plans to transfer 37 percent of its voting stock to "19 out-of-state hedge funds" with the intention of replacing the bank's board of directors and putting the bank up for sale.

The Otto Bremer Trust has three positions on the bank's 10-person board, albeit controls the majority of the bank's shares. But upon proposing the bank's sale at a meeting last month, it was rejected by the board's other members.

Describing it in a press release as a "hostile takeover," Bremer Financial says OBT co-CEOs Brian Lipschiltz, Daniel Reardon, and Charlotte Johnson "recently orchestrated a series of events designed to wrest control of Bremer from its independent directors and force a sale that the Board does not support."

They were doing this, the lawsuit filing says, for the purpose of "enriching themselves at the expense of communities throughout the State and the region.

Bremer Financial claims the attempt to sell the bank represents an attempt "to seize control of the company from its employee shareholders and deliver it to OBT," and in the process claims the trust is violating its organization documents and "applicable law."

"We are extremely disappointed that OBT’s reckless unilateral actions have undermined a partnership that has delivered for the people of Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin for more than 75 years,” said Jeanne Crain, Bremer Financial President and CEO and a member of the board.

"Regardless, Bremer will continue to focus on serving our customers, employees and communities with the same heartfelt determination that Otto Bremer instilled in our company when he established it in 1943.

"I remain confident in Bremer’s strategic direction, our sharpened focus on key customer segments and digital innovation, and in our dedicated and innovative team of more than 1,800 employees."

Sign up: Follow Bring Me The News on LinkedIn

Trust says lawsuit hurts bank, employees

Bremer Bank is the fourth largest bank in the state, and has dozens of retail locations across the Twin Cities and in greater Minnesota.

Upon announcing efforts to sell the bank last month, Lipschultz said the decision was being taken as it's in the "best interests of the individuals and communities that OBT serves," and argues the sale would allow it to increase the trust's philanthropic work across the Upper Midwest.

In a statement sent to BMTN on Wednesday, the trust said: "It’s disappointing that BFC has chosen a path of obstruction and conflict in this matter. In doing so, they are acting in a manner that seems certain to hurt the bank and its employees, to waste the resources of the company and to hurt the people Otto Bremer dedicated his life and fortune to helping. 

“The allegations in the lawsuit are false and without merit. We’re confident the courts will quickly see this tactic for what it is: an ill-founded attempt by conflicted management and directors to deprive all shareholders of the value of their stock and to deny employees and communities of any legitimate exploration of their opportunities.”

Next Up

Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are finally heading to Cooperstown

The Twins legends were elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday night.

Tanner Morgan

Report: Gophers to play in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

The Gophers will reportedly head to Phoenix to take on West Virginia.

Adam Thielen

Winless Lions beat Vikings on final play of game

Adam Thielen also left early with an ankle injury

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 7-0 on Willis' late 3-pointer

The Gophers earned back-to-back road victories for the first time since January 2017.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Woman in critical condition after being shot in the head in St. Paul

Officers responded to the incident at around 2:45 a.m. Saturday.

Alexander Mattison

Vikings-Lions: 5 things you can count on

It's a great time for the Vikings to play the Lions.

covid

Omicron variant confirmed in Wisconsin man who traveled to South Africa

Five other cases have been confirmed and linked to a Wisconsin wedding.

Sharon Mollerus - duluth - snow plow car

Sunday snowstorm walloping MN's North Shore with huge totals

Just ridiculous snow totals expected the rest of Sunday.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 6.49.03 AM

Saturday snow causes havoc on Twin Cities roads

There were countless spinouts and crashes across Minnesota.

Kirill Kaprizov

Wild win battle of NHL's hottest teams, extend winning streak to six

Kirill Kaprizov delivered a shootout winner to take down the Maple Leafs.

Related

Bremer bank

St. Paul's Bremer Bank could be sold amid internal split

The trust that controls it can't agree on a strategy with the bank's board.

Keith Ellison

AG Ellison seeks removal of Otto Bremer Trust trustees

The attorney general filed petitions in court this week to have the three trustees removed immediately.

Minnesota's TCF Bank to merge with Detroit-based bank

The TCF name is staying, with Detroit's Chemical Bank changing its name.

US Bank

U.S. Bank closes 8 Minnesota branches permanently

The bank announced last month it would be accelerating its branch closures.

1024px-TCF_Bank_Corporate_Building_(34635667776)

TCF Bank to become Huntington as part of $22 billion merger

The bank, which will soon be known as Huntington, was founded in Minneapolis in 1923.

US Bank

U.S. Bank to review firing of 2 workers who broke rules to help customer

The Minneapolis-based bank was the subject of a scathing column in the New York Times.

Bell Bank gives Minnesota employees a bumper bonus

The bank is celebrating reaching a financial milestone.

US Bank

Job cuts coming to U.S. Bank branches, offices

The Minneapolis-based bank is currently amidst a cull of its branches.