Magazine article American Banker

Heller Surges to No. 1 in SBA Loans, Ending Money Store's Reign

Magazine article American Banker

Heller Surges to No. 1 in SBA Loans, Ending Money Store's Reign

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -

Money Store Inc. has been dethroned as the nation's leading Small Business Administration lender.

After 16 years in the top spot, the First Union Corp. subsidiary slipped to second place, behind Heller Financial Inc., in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Chicago-based Heller originated $536.5 million in 7(a) loans in fiscal year 1999, according to the SBA, 66% more than the previous year. Money Store, which was acquired by Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union last year, originated $414.1 million, down 4%.

Heller officials attributed the surge from No. 3 to reaching customers in new markets. They insisted that overtaking the Money Store was never a goal, and they that promised credit quality would not be sacrificed to hold on to the top ranking.

"We would like to hang on to it, but we know it's very competitive out there," said Debra Riley, national sales manager at Heller Small Business Lending. "We will continue to do prudent lending."

Fiscal 1999 was a banner year for SBA-guaranteed lending, according to data that the agency released Wednesday. Loan volume soared 12.5% to a record $10.15 billion, 7.3% more than the previous record, set in 1997. About 3,200 lenders made nearly 44,000 loans to small businesses.

The most active lender was Bank of America Corp. Though Heller, Money Store, and Newcourt Small Business Lending were the clear leaders in terms of dollar volume, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America made the most loans by far. Bank of America and its subsidiaries made 2,159 loans, totaling just under $150 million. …

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