Banking & Finance

Dissident Shareholder Joins Board of First Niles Financial

NILES, Ohio – Lance F. Osborne, who last April sought election to the board of First Niles Financial Inc. as a dissident shareholder, has joined the board at the invitation of the new president and CEO, Dan Csontos.

Osborne, president of Osborne Capital Group, joined the board of both the holding company and its subsidiary, Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Niles, in December, but Csontos announced Osborne’s directorships Wednesday.

Osborne and Steve Passov, a principal in Kowit & Passov Realty Brokerage, sought election to the First Niles board last spring against the two incumbents seeking re-election. Osborne and Passov’s efforts to solicit shareholder proxies proved insufficient and the incumbents were re-elected.

In a prepared statement, Csontos said, “Our team is enthusiastic about adding Lance Osborne to the board. He has significant experience as a director of a successful community bank [Lake National Bank in Mentor]. We look forward to working with Lance in expanding [our] bank’s presence in the marketplace.”

Said Osborne in his statement, “I am excited to join the board of directors and look forward to enhancing our community banking model. [Home Federal] is establishing solid momentum in community-based lending throughout Trumbull County and surrounding communities. I look forward to working with Dan Csontos and his team in profitably growing the company.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Csontos said he had several lengthy conversations with Osborne before extending an invitation. Based on those conversations, Osborne’s extensive experience in commercial real estate development, and a sense Osborne could help Home Federal enter new markets, Csontos asked him to join.

Osborne’s stake in First Niles remains unchanged, Csontos said. Osborne did not return a call for comment.

Osborne’s family founded Lake National Bank in 2005, the only independently owned bank in Lake County, and guided its growth through the end of 2015 when it was sold to CNB Financial Corp., Clearfield, Pa. Osborne remains on the advisory board of the Eriebank division of CNB Bank.

As head of Osborne Capital, Osborne has enjoyed considerable success as a commercial real estate developer, especially shopping centers in northeastern Ohio.

Pictured: The sole office of Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Niles.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.