Signature Bank layoffs hit key CRE team

Cuts come as Newmark looks to sell $60B loan book

As Newmark lays the groundwork to sell Signature Bank’s $60 billion loan book, some of the failed bank’s top players are being shown the door.

A dozen members of Signature’s commercial real estate team will be laid off at the end of the month, the Commercial Observer reported. The layoffs include Joseph Fingerman, who served as the managing group director and senior vice president of the bank’s commercial real estate lending team.

Fingerman, who had been with Signature for around 16 years, took charge of the CRE originations team five years ago.

The cuts impacted several senior members of the lending group and people familiar with the situation told the outlet they are only the start of eliminations in the department. Some clients were surprised to hear of the layoffs.

Signature’s CRE lending team executed 632 loans in 2021 alone for a total of $4 billion in new transactions. But it wasn’t enough to save the regional bank from failure in March, when it followed in the footsteps of another collapsed regional bank, Silicon Valley Bank on the opposite coast.

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New York Community Bank, through subsidiary Flagstar Bank, acquired a $12.9 billion portion of Signature’s $74 billion portfolio. Notably, the deal didn’t include Signature’s commercial real estate portfolio — $35 billion at the end of last year — or its $19.5 billion multifamily loan book.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in March tapped Newmark to sell $60 billion of remaining loans from Signature, a task believed to likely fall upon recent additions Adam Spies and Doug Harmon. Flagstar and NYCB are servicing the portfolio in the interim; it is expected to be sold in seven loan pools, the first of which is expected to hit the market soon.

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Since 2020, Signature issued the largest volume of commercial real estate mortgages in New York City, according to PincusCo. 

It lent out $13.4 billion against New York City properties with loan amounts of $5 million or above. Office loans accounted for about 5 percent of Signature’s total loans, while the majority of its outstanding multifamily loans were on rent-stabilized properties, severely hurt in value by 2019 rent law changes.

Holden Walter-Warner

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