NEW YORK (TheStreet) - John Millman, the president and CEO of Sterling National Bank -- the main subsidiary of Sterling Bancorp (STL) of New York -- told TheStreet in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the bank was uniquely positioned to grow its earnings and market share amid a resurgence for small and medium-sized businesses in the bank's market area.
After reporting a 71% increase in first-quarter earnings on Tuesday,Sterling Bancorp on Wednesday announced approval from the U.S. Treasury to redeem fully redeem $42 million in preferred stock held by the government for bailout funds received through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, in December 2008.
|Sterling National Bank president and CEO John Millman|
Sterling National Bank has a unique business model as a community bank operating in New York City, with experience in providing sophisticated services, including asset-based lending, trade financing and factoring, going back to the 1930's. The bank's small and medium-sized business customers are concentrated in service providers, including staffing services, physician groups, law firms, and other service-related companies.
In an interview with TheStreet following the first-quarter earnings report, Millman was very confident in New York's economic prospects.TheStreet: How is the lending environment evolving in the city? John Millman: We feel really good about what we're seeing in the marketplace. It's an enormous market and we have relatively small market share, so we believe with the capital we have raised [over $100 million] strong liquidity and very good asset quality, there is an enormous opportunity in this market right now. Numerous business have been disenfranchised [by other lenders], because a hiccup in their business. We are a business bank focusing on customers borrowing between $500,000 and $20 million. TheStreet: Are your customers in the temporary staffing business reporting signs of improvement in their prospects? Millman: Yes, very substantially. It has been a bellweather industry for us. We have always found that staffing turns down at the very earliest states of a recession and begins to tick up sooner than other indicators. What happens is that folks who see volume pick up will first commit to temporary staffing. TheStreet: Why are you drawing down the lease business? Millman: We have been in it for about 40 years. Unlike our lending, which is focused in New York, our leasing business is a small ticker, national business. When the recession hit, the leasing business showed a dramatic pickup in delinquencies.
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