TRLPC: Citizens Financial expands commercial banking nationwide

NEW YORK Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:42am EDT

NEW YORK Aug 13 (Reuters) - Citizens Financial Group Inc's commercial bank, RBS Citizens, said Wednesday it is expanding its MidCorporate business nationwide, and has hired commercial banking teams in five new cities. The focus will be on providing increased financing capabilities to companies in the healthcare, technology and other growth industries, as well as franchising.

"This expansion is a continuation of the path we've been on over the last five years to build a world class commercial bank," Robert Matthews, Citizens' vice chairman for commercial banking, told Thomson Reuters LPC in an interview. "It's really a chance to step up the speed and pace with which we serve our relevant customers through building industry verticals, product investment, and upgrading systems and capabilities."

The move extends RBS Citizens' geographic reach beyond the firm's traditional New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern footprint. It has hired commercial banking teams in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles, as well as added key staff to bolster capabilities in specialties such as lender finance, treasury services and global markets.

Citizens' investment in and expansion of its commercial banking business comes as a number of U.S. regional banks are seeking to increase market share through targeting new geographies, upgrading talent and building out existing platforms and capabilities.

Atlanta-based SunTrust Robinson Humphrey last November established corporate banking offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas. Birmingham, AL-based Regions Financial Corp and Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corp also opened corporate banking offices in Chicago to expand offerings to middle market clients in that region.

As part of the nationwide expansion, RBS Citizens is adding more than 70 people across all geographies and initiatives, including some in the franchise business, with the new hires weighted toward origination professionals.

"We have grown from a bank with a strong but regionally focused Commercial Banking division to a top lead arranger of syndicated loans for middle market companies," said Matthews.

Citizens' commercial banking business offers corporate, institutional and not-for-profit clients a full range of wholesale banking products and services including lending and deposits, capital markets, treasury services, foreign exchange and interest hedging, leasing and asset finance, specialty finance and trade finance.

RBS Citizens' national expansion targets mid-corporates, or businesses with $500 million to $2.5 billion in annual revenues. The bank serves both corporate clients as well as private equity sponsored companies.

"We will still see good opportunities from private equity sponsors, which generate acquisition business, but the core long-term growth will come from the corporate side," said Matthews.

Providence, RI-based Citizens Financial Group is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is planning to spin off the U.S. banking operation. RBS has said it would sell 20-25 percent of Citizens by the end of 2014 through a U.S. IPO, Reuters reported. Citizens Financial Group filed in May with U.S. regulators for a public stock offering.

Citizens announced in June that it will change the name of its commercial banking division from RBS Citizens to Citizens Commercial Banking later this year. (Editing By Michelle Sierra and Jon Methven)

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