Bank OZK eyes major expansion in Houston

Construction lending giant sees “untapped potential” in region 

Bank OZK's Brannon Hamblen (Mark Fonville/Bank OZK, Getty)
Bank OZK's Brannon Hamblen (Mark Fonville/Bank OZK, Getty)

Bank OZK, a top dog in the construction lending game, is eyeing a significant expansion in the Bayou City as it seeks to capitalize on “untapped potential.”

The Arkansas-based lender plans to double its branch locations in the Houston region to eight within the next 12 months, the Houston Business Journal reported

Bank OZK has targeted northwest Houston, the Heights and Friendswood for the branches. Plus, it has leased over 7,800 square feet at the Brookhollow Central development in northwest Houston, where its corporate and institutional banking group operations will be headquartered. A significant portion of the bank’s closing and portfolio management operations will be conducted from the Brookhollow location, where it plans to move into in September.

Bank OZK issued more than $3 billion of real estate construction loans last year, surpassing its closest competitors by more than $1 billion, according to MSCI. The bank is handing out loans at a time when many lending institutions are reluctant, due to a struggling commercial real estate sector that’s seen mounting distress since last year. 

The bank operates 25 branches in Texas, 13 of which are in Dallas-Fort Worth, with a statewide employee count of 360, including 38 in Houston.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

The new corporate and institutional banking group, led by Houston-based President Jake Munn, consolidated the bank’s asset-based lending, equipment finance, capital solutions and fund finance groups. It also introduced corporate banking and sponsor finance capabilities, targeting middle-market and large corporate commercial and industrial lending relationships.

Bank OZK president Brannon Hamblen noted that the corporate and institutional banking group in Houston will nearly double the bank’s local employee count in the near term, with plans for continued hiring and expansion. He also indicated that while the bank is focused on organic growth, it remains open to potential acquisitions, although it will be highly selective.

The company aims to diversify beyond its traditional focus on real estate lending by adding the division.

“There’s so much more in Houston that we can do, in particular around commercial and industrial business, with our CIB group and with more community bankers,” Hamblen told the outlet. “There’s a lot of untapped potential for us in the Houston market.”

—Quinn Donoghue 

Read more

Waldorf Astoria Miami Developers Score $668M Construction Loan
South Florida
PMG, partners score record $668M construction loan for Waldorf Astoria supertall
Bank OZK's George Gleason and a rendering of The Republic tower (Bank OZK, rendering by Neoscape)
Bank OZK lends $300M to Lincoln, DivcoWest for 48-story Austin office tower
Barber Nets $57M Industrial Construction Loan from Bank OZK
Barber scores $57M construction loan for Plainfield industrial
Recommended For You