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Signature Bank's CRE Lending Leaders Laid Off With More ‘Likely Coming’

The Signature Bank branch on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

Members of Signature Bank’s once-prolific commercial real estate lending team were reportedly laid off this week and are expected to stop working there at the end of the month.

Joseph Fingerman, the team’s head, as well as group directors and senior vice presidents Karl Seus, Nicholas LaMorte and Kenneth Stagnari, were among those affected, Commercial Observer reports.

Sources told the publication those laid off were “senior, key members of the lending team,” with another CO source adding that “more layoffs are likely coming.” Fingerman had led the commercial real estate originations team since in 2018. Before it was seized by regulators in March, Signature was the third-largest commercial real estate lender in New York City.

New York Community Bancorp subsidiary Flagstar Bank agreed to buy $38.4B of the assets controlled by Signature’s receiver a week after the closure. But the deal did not include Signature’s $35.8B commercial real estate loan portfolio or the $19.5B in multifamily loans it owns.

Newmark was tapped by the federal government to sell the $60B in remaining loans, and nearly half of the bank’s real estate loans were tied to multifamily rent-stabilized assets, according to a Maverick Real Estate Partners analysis. Those types of properties have seen their values drop by between 25% and 60%, Maverick said, hit by sharpened rent regulations in 2019 and the soaring investment rate environment.

“I'm confident there are plenty of investors in the market that will see something there,” JPMorgan Chase Managing Director of Originations Brooke Richartz said at Bisnow's New York Multifamily Development and Investment conference in March. “It shows that, overall, the other banks are out there. They're looking to help each other out.”

Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase bought most of the operations of First Republic Bank after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took control of the bank to stop its collapse. The San Francisco-based lender had more than $30B in commercial and multifamily real estate loans on its books.