M&T Bank is entering marine wholesale finance, perhaps the first bank to break into floorplan lending in years.
The bank is "testing the waters" with dealers it has worked positively with in the past in its regional swath from New York to Virginia, according to SunTrust vice president of marine lending Don Parkhurst.
Parkhurst confirmed the new venture in talking with M&T's Mike Ryan Thursday at the American Boating Congress in Washington, D.C. Ryan is vice president of M&T Bank's Consumer Asset Management Division in Amherst, N.Y., and secretary of the National Marine Bankers Association.
M&T Bank could not be reached for comment.
"It's good news to see somebody new going into it that hasn't been doing it," Parkhurst said. "They might be thinking the worst is behind us and it's a good time to get into it."
KeyBank pulled out of both floorplan and retail financing in September 2008, and Textron quit offering floorplan loans in December 2008, dealing a blow to dealers who scrambled to find loans with the few lenders left, namely GE Capital Solutions.
GE currently has between 75 and 80 percent of the market, Parkhurst estimates. With thinning competition, dealers saw rate hikes and additional charges on their floorplan loans.
Bank of America and Bank of the West are two other large banks that still offer floorplan financing.
"Hopefully it's the first of more who will do this," said Parkhurst. "It will take a lot more than one regional bank to make a big change, but I think it is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for the industry."
— Reagan Haynes