published Friday, December 3rd, 2010

1st Security names bank veteran COO


by Brittany Cofer

An Ohioan was recently named president and chief operating officer of First Security Group Inc., parent of FSGBank, succeeding the company's founding president who remains as chairman and CEO.

Ralph E. "Gene" Coffman Jr., who has 37 years experience in the financial services industry and most recently served as regional president and chief executive of WesBanco Bank Inc. in Ohio, has taken on the role of company president previously held by Rodger B. Holley.

The COO position had been open since April 2009 and the previous COO also served as president, Holley said. "We were fortunate to find somebody with the skill level and experience that Gene has, and he's going to be handling the day-to-day operations of the bank."

Coffman, whose annual base pay is $250,000, has been working with FSGBank in an unofficial capacity since September and took on the new title Nov. 24, according to a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

He said the previous bank he worked for sold out to a larger bank and when he began looking for other work, he thought the position here was a good fit, considering his a background in sales and business development.

"I've worked with situations where banks have had asset quality issues, so I have the ability to help work through those processes, too," Coffman said.

problems seen

However, Michael Rose, an analyst with Raymond James & Associates who follows First Security Group, said the new addition doesn't change his view that the company is underperforming and is projected to continue to lose money.

"It doesn't solve or address any of the issues they are going through right now," Rose said. "Basically, they're in a tough spot because capital has historically been strong and it is being eaten away quickly by an elevated level of losses and nonperforming assets."

In the third quarter First Security Group reported a net loss available to common stockholders of $30.2 million, compared to a $28.6 million net loss in the year-ago period.

First Security Group's stock closed Thursday at 67 cents a share, up a fraction of a penny. A year ago, the company's stock closed at $2.89 per share.

about Brittany Cofer...

Brittany Cofer is a business reporter who has been with the Chattanooga Times Free Press since January 2010. She previously worked as a general assignment Metro reporter. In the Business department, she covers banking, retail, tourism, consumer issues and green issues. Brittany is from Conyers, Ga., and spent two years at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., before transferring to the University of Georgia. She graduated from the university’s Grady College of Journalism in December ...

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