Harris Nesbitt is ramping up its asset-based lending capabilities by extending its branch network with the opening of an office in Los Angeles and is eyeing offices in New York and Boston. Kevin Delaplane, senior v.p., and managing director, said the asset-based lending operation is a national business and Harris wants to put people on the ground to supplement relationships. "This is a growth business for Harris, with 20-30% expansion in the last two years," Delaplane added, noting Harris expects to continue at this level of increase, though he could not provide figures for a balance sheet increase. There is no timeframe for the further rollout and no specific numbers for the amount of people targeted, he said. Offices have also been opened in Detroit and Atlanta, as part of the national rollout program.
Delaplane said he has not seen the competition aggressively expanding. This is a strategic play for Harris, which expects to pick up considerable business in the traditional manufacturing, distribution and food sectors, he said. Much of the competition has been tightening lending to the middle-market arena and Harris has had good success picking up business, he added. Transaction sizes are up to $100 million and hold levels for Harris are up to $30 million.
Spokesman Philip Margolis of Fleet Capital agreed asset-based lending "is where it is at right now," adding, Fleet is actively growing in the market. Fleet has decided to expand lending on the smaller deals especially, he added. ABL is great in the current environment as accurately predicting cash-flow revenue is difficult and price-wise it is advantageous, he said. Eloise Hale, Bank of America spokeswoman, pointed out that B of A tightened lending standards at the beginning of the year to certain industries. She declined to say which industries or at what stage in the loan cleansing operations B of A is at. The ABL business is not being reduced though, she said, but lending to some industries has been tightened. Marissa Moretti, spokeswoman, for GE Capital did not return calls.