Wilmington Trust sale rumor rattles investor advocacy group
The Shareholders Foundation, an investor advocacy group that tracks and reports on legal news regarding securities, said an unnamed law firm is launching an investigation into Wilmington Trust Corp.'s (WL) compliance with fiduciary duties as rumors about a company sale spin through the marketplace. The investigation will determine whether a potential sale transaction and price would be unfair to shareholders of the trust company, according to a statement from the Shareholders Foundation. Such a response to sale rumors is not unusual for the foundation. Most recently, investor investigations into fiduciary duty compliance include First Mercury Financial (FMR) and BMP Sunstone. Wilmington Trust Corp. is a holding company that provides financial services through its banking and other subsidiaries. The firm was established in 1903 to look after the interests of the members of the wealthy du Pont family. Wilmington is a big player in the mortgage securitization space and often sponsors booths at related conferences, both international and domestic. Wilmington did not comment on the potential sale and investigation when contacted by HousingWire. The Delaware-based Wilmington saw its net income go from $143.8 million in 2006 and $182 million in 2007 to a net less of $23.6 million in 2008 and $4.4 million in 2009. Wilmington reported a second quarter loss of $116.4 million and has yet to report third quarter earnings. According to Portfolio.com, Wilmington is in contact with several Canadian banks about a potential buyout. The Bank of Montreal was specifically named. However, the publication reports the firm is not officially on the market. Wilmington's stock fluctuated uncharacteristically this year because of concern for the firm's stability. In January, Wilmington's stock broke $15 per common share and then spiked in April, trading at $20 a share. At the beginning of October, the company's stock fell below $10 and is currently hovering around $8. Wilmington Trust said its policy "is not to comment on unusual market activity or speculation." Write to Christine Ricciardi. Disclosure: The author holds no relevant investments.