Joseph A. Rice, who, as the head of a New York bank in the 1980s, played a leading role in a corporate battle that shook up an industry that had mostly avoided such fights, died on Jan. 8 at his home in New Paltz, N.Y. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by his son Philip.
Joseph Rice was the chairman and chief executive of the Irving Bank Corporation in 1987 when a regional rival, the Bank of New York, made a hostile takeover offer, a startling move in an industry known at the time for its genteel business codes.
Mr. Rice, mild-mannered by nature, fought the deal and warned against such aggressive tactics. “The prospect of a Wild West shooting spree is not an admirable one in our business,” he said.
But Bank of New York refused to take no for an answer. The battle lasted for more than a year, becoming the longest-running takeover fight in American business history to that point. Irving Bank drew on every resistance tool in the corporate armory, culminating in a close proxy fight.