Group Head of Real Estate Finance at First Citizens
Last year's rank: 50
First Citizens scaled its lending platform with two big company moves during the past year.
The Raleigh, N.C.-based firm closed a merger with CIT Group in early 2022 that added $32.71 billion of loans to its portfolio. The expansion continued in March 2023 with First Citizens’ acquisition of more than $72 billion of Silicon Valley Bank’s loans for a discounted price of $16.5 billion.
While facing challenging market conditions, First Citizens’ lending portfolio was heavily weighted toward the well-performing property sectors of multifamily and industrial during the past year. It originated $2.3 billion of lending volume for calendar year 2022.
One of the industrial deals First Citizens closed involved a $39.6 million acquisition loan for Clarion Partners to develop an industrial property at 4501 and 4601 Curtis Avenue in Baltimore.
First Citizens also provided a $34 million debt package on behalf of a joint venture between i.Park and Great Point Media for the development of Lionsgate Warburton Studios, an entertainment production facility in Yonkers, just outside of New York City. First Citizens (previously CIT) and i.Park worked together previously on a number of deals over the past decade, which underscores the bank’s relationship lending philosophy, according to Chris Niederpruem, with about half of its business coming from repeat clients.
“It really is a relationship business,” Niederpruem said. “We are focused on spending a lot of time getting to know the people that we’re lending money to and doing business with, and when we find comfort we like to repeat that.”
First Citizens Bank’s real estate finance group is also an active participant in the company’s inclusion, equity and diversity program called FCB Together. Real estate finance associates in the program take part in business resource groups aimed at fostering an inclusive work environment, including FCB Together Black & African Americans, FCB Together LGBTQ+, FCB Together Veterans and FCB Together Women.
In a year that was bookended by two mergers, First Citizens made big strides in a challenging environment.
“It’s been an interesting year between a couple of mergers that we’ve been through and changes to interest rates and a looming recession, so all that has created a challenging environment for commercial real estate,” Niederpruem said. “We’ve kept our heads down and have continued to support our existing clients looking for opportunities to grow their business.”. —A.C.