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.

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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.