Florida Bank Starting New York Commercial Lending Office

BankUnited, Miami Lakes, Fla., is entering the New York commercial real estate lending market, hiring Saverio “Sam” Giarrusso to be in charge. While BankUnited might be an unfamiliar name in the New York market, its chief executive is not. John Kanas, the executive who built North Fork Bank into a regional powerhouse before selling it to Capital One, is now in charge of BankUnited.

“Sam and his team will spearhead a concentrated effort to recapture significant market share in New York. Combined with other New York team members they will be a powerful, competitive force in the market,” said Kanas.

BankUnited will have to compete against Astoria Financial (among others), which has placed a strong emphasis on building its loan portfolio with commercial real estate and multifamily loans because low interest rates are preventing it from originating the adjustable rate residential mortgages its covets.

Giarrusso has worked 27 years in the banking industry and served as president of the New York City/Long Island region of M&T Bank where he headed the commercial real estate lending division. He has also served as a member of the Freddie Mac Seller/Servicer Advisory Council.

Besides Giarrusso, BankUnited has hired Scott Lublin, senior vice president; Jill Marie Ho Tai, senior vice president; and Joseph Sforzo, vice president; to fill out its New York commercial real estate staff.

Lublin has 24 years of banking industry experience, having worked with Giarrusso for nearly 20 years. Ho Tai has 20 years of banking industry experience, most recently as administrative vice president for M&T Bank’s New York commercial real estate department. Sforzo worked for M&T Bank’s New York City/Long Island commercial real estate division before joining Largo Capital, a mortgage banking firm, as a managing director.

BankUnited has nearly 100 branches in Florida. Its press release said it would be opening branches in New York City and Long Island over the next few weeks.