Mortgage Observer

Class of 2013: New Hires Signal Banks’ Growth Heading Into New Year

Everyone wants to operate a business in New York City. Companies from around the world travel to the Big Apple to expand their presence in the global market by staking out space here.

While the costs of operating a business in the city and in the region can be astronomical, the rewards can make it well worth it. So despite the challenges, each year a number of financial institutions from around the globe decide that it’s time to expand in New York in order to capitalize on companies’ desires to open shop or expand their operations here. As 2012 draws to a close, a number of new entrants from regional and national banks are elbowing in to gain market share in the New York tristate area by offering financing for commercial real estate. That means new hires.

2013 web Class of 2013: New Hires Signal Banks Growth Heading Into New YearHerald National Bank, a subsidiary of Bank United, is slated to become Bank United on February 1, 2013. Over the past few months, a number of former North Fork commercial lenders have joined the ranks of new employees at Herald National Bank. November 12, for instance, was the first day of employment in the New York City office of Herald National for Paul Leprohon, a former North Fork Bank employee. Mr. Leprohon joins Paul Breuer there, who is based in Melville, Long Island. Both spent many years working together at North Fork and at Chase Manhattan Bank. They’ll both be working with the chairman and vice chairman of Bank United—John Kanas and John Bohlsen, respectively—who are both formerly of North Fork.

Banco Popular is a $37 billion holding company based in Puerto Rico. Over the past few years the bank has been rebranding itself in the U.S., shifting to become a community bank. In June of this year, it changed the name of its New York City operation to Popular Community Bank.

The bank was an active lender in providing construction and real estate financing, but the combination of the recession and economic crisis of 2008 caused it to scale back its exposure in this market.

This summer, Sophia Haliotis joined as a senior vice president for the $8.7-billion-asset Popular Community, the U.S. unit of Popular. She joined the bank to lead the commercial banking and real estate team’s expansion in the retail, industrial, multifamily apartment and nonprofit refinancing sectors.

“Currently, the bank is refocusing on growing its commercial real estate book as well as its overall commercial lending,” Ms. Haliotis said, adding that the growth is expected to come as a result of a new initiative in multifamily lending.

In July of this year, Hudson City Bancorp announced that it will enter the lucrative commercial real estate market, initially participating in syndicated commercial real estate and multifamily mortgage loans. Then, on August 27th, M&T Bank Corp. agreed to buy Hudson City Bancorp for $3.7 billion.

With the acquisition, M&T Bank will expand its presence in providing commercial real estate and middle market financing to companies in markets where Hudson City has an extensive branch network.

TriState Capital Bank provides commercial and industrial banking, commercial real estate lending and private banking services for middle market businesses. The bank was founded in 2007 and is based in Pittsburgh. This past summer, it opened its New York City location at 623 Fifth Avenue. In August, the bank announced the hiring of Thomas Gilmartin to serve as regional president of the company’s New York City market.

TriState Capital Bank President William Schenck III, commenting on growth and expansion plans, said that the “bank’s focus is serving middle market businesses with revenues in the $20 million to $200 million range and high-net-worth individuals.” He added that the bank is “excited about now being part of the New York metropolitan market.”

Before the end of the year, People’s United Bank is expected to open its flagship New York City branch at 250 Park Avenue. In July, the bank announced that John Costa had joined its commercial banking group as executive vice president and head of the New York commercial real estate business.

“We are pleased to have John join us to grow our lending activities in the metro New York market,” said Jeffrey Tengel, senior vice president, commercial banking. In addition to the hiring of Mr. Costa, the bank hired two other senior lenders from Santander specializing in multifamily financing.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, with $352 billion in assets, is the parent company of the fifth-largest commercial bank in the United States—U.S. Bank National Association. Over the past decade, it has provided financing for commercial real estate for private investors, real estate investment trusts and private equity funds. Earlier this year, the bank hired Gregory Fierce to oversee the loan production and originations in New York City. “I joined the bank to focus more on the New York City marketplace,” Mr. Fierce said. “With that groundwork laid in 2012, we plan to expand our portfolio further in 2013.”

California-based First Republic Bank is also expanding its presence in the New York tristate area. Last December, the leading private bank and wealth management company announced that Garrett Sokoloff had joined as a managing director in New York City. Mr. Sokoloff had worked for UBS as the co-head of conduit origination in the real estate finance group. Over the past year, his team has become a major force in providing commercial real estate financing in the region.

With these new hires all poised to take advantage of growth in the New York area in the new year, banks from all across the country appear ready to go.