Beaufort News

Tidelands vice chairman resigns from bank board

The vice chairman of Tidelands Bank has resigned, citing differences with the board of directors over the sudden resignation last week of the lender's top executive.

J. Louis Grant, who was an outside director of the Mount Pleasant-based bank and its parent company, announced during a conference call with the board last Tuesday that he was stepping down, according to a filing with Securities and Exchange Commission.

Grant is a vice president with Robinson Grant & Co., a certified public accounting firm with offices on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton and Beaufort, according to the firm's website. Tidelands has a branch on Hilton Head.

The previous day, Robert E. "Chip" Coffee abruptly resigned as chief executive officer and president from Tidelands. Coffee also gave up his seat on the board.

The bank said in the SEC filing that Grant did not specify his reason for quitting in a resignation letter dated Wednesday. But the bank went on to say it "believes his resignation is the result of a disagreement" regarding the board's "deliberative process in accepting" Coffee's departure.

Grant said that description "expresses my sentiments exactly."

He declined to elaborate Monday about his disagreement with the board.

"At this point I cannot," he said.

Larry Tarleton, acting chairman of Tidelands Bancshares Inc., said he could not comment beyond the SEC document, which was filed Friday.

Grant, 64, is an Andrews native and a graduate of The Citadel. He had been on the bank board since 2007. At the time of his resignation, he served on four committees. He also was vice chairman and secretary. No successor was named to fill his vacancy.

His and Coffee's departures come as the bank struggles to regain its footing after suffering deep losses from the real estate downturn. Tidelands is also operating under two supervisory agreements with regulators that require it to raise more capital and take other corrective actions to strengthen its balance sheet.

Thomas H. Lyles, who had been executive vice president and chief administrative officer, was named acting CEO last week. Alan W. Jackson, chief financial officer at Tidelands, was named interim president.

Shares of the company closed a penny lower Monday to 48 cents.