Simmons Bank Taps TCF Exec to Lead Commercial Finance Unit

Simmons Bank Taps TCF Exec to Lead Commercial Finance Unit
(Karen E. Segrave)

Simmons Bank on Tuesday announced a new commercial finance business unit, which will focus on equipment finance in business aviation, over-the-road trucking, franchise finance and marine financing.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff (Nasdaq: SFNC), said the 11-member team will be led by Lee Palm, Brian Shapiro and Phil Mulder.

Palm, the unit's president, was previously president of commercial finance at TCF Financial Corp. of Detroit, a $46.7 billion-asset bank. There he developed a de novo business plan to establish a commercial lending business targeting corporate aviation, inland marine and rail, trucking, health care finance and franchise finance, the company said.

"Lee brings extensive industry experience building and leading successful commercial finance businesses, and the relationships he's developed will benefit Simmons as we look to further expand and diversify our commercial banking capabilities," Matt Reddin, executive vice president and chief banking officer at Simmons, said in a news release.

Reddin said the move will allow Simmons to offer its commercial finance customers "a deeper banking relationship" with access to an array of complementary commercial banking and wealth management products and services.

The company said Shapiro will be managing director of the group, leading its transportation and marine business; Mulder will be the division's head of credit and risk.

Simmons said Shapiro has more than 30 years of experience in commercial finance and leasing working for companies including Borg Warner Inc. of Auburn Hills, Michigan; Pitney Bowes of Stamford, Connecticut; and most recently Chemical/TCF Bank.

Mulder has more than 20 years of experience at both JPMorgan Chase & Co. of New York City and, most recently, Citizens Financial Group Inc. of Providence, Rhode Island, where he was senior vice president and credit manager for Citizens Asset Finance.

Many members of the commercial team come to Simmons from TCF, which was recently acquired by Huntington Bancshares Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, which has $175 billion in assets.

Simmons First had total assets of $23.4 billion as of June 30. Simmons Bank operates 198 branches across six states, including 68 in Arkansas.