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Tidelands director quits over dispute

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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 morning conference call with the board last Tuesday morning that he was stepping down, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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

The bank said the SEC filing that Grant did not explicitly state his reason for quitting in a resignation letter dated April 6. But it went on to say it "believes that 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.

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Larry Tarleton, acting chairman of Tidelands Bancshares Inc. and a former publisher of The Post and Courier, said he could not comment beyond the SEC document filed Friday.

Grant, 64, is an Andrews native and a graduate of The Citadel. He is vice president with Robinson Grant & Co., a certified public accounting firm on Hilton Head Island. Tidelands has one branch in that part of the state.

Grant 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. Also, Tideland is 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.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.

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