BoA renews LaSalle’s commitment to security

Monday, September 1, 2008

CHICAGO--During the period after Bank of America had agreed to purchase LaSalle Bank from ABM AMRO, in the spring of 2007, there was some concern as to whether the company would continue LaSalle’s long-standing commitment to lending into the security space. As Bank of America waited for the sale to close, the company declined any request for comment on the matter.

However, at least one LaSalle partner was unworried: “I see [the acquisition by Bank of America] as nothing more than LaSalle getting bigger and better at what they do,” said Terry Mullett, CEO of Trans-Alarm.

“They’re deeply committed to the industry. People who I respect in the industry recommended them to us, and that recommendation was a good one in our opinion. So far it’s been very easy to work with them, and I don’t anticipate that changing.”

That prediction has been confirmed by Michael Jamieson, a senior vice president at Bank of America and a 24-year veteran with LaSalle who worked with security firms as the bank catered to the market with a specialized initiative. “I’m very familiar with [LaSalle’s] commitment to the security market,” he said. But, “with Bank of America, we can bring more to the market. The geographic reach of Bank of America is beyond what we could really offer effectively with LaSalle ... We used to have to stop short of delivering the full package,” which might include estate planning and management or commercial credit cards in addition to funding for a loan. “Now we no longer have to do that.”

Further, “one major upgrade is on the investment banking side,” he said, “which are state of the art, with private placements, syndicated deals, you name it.”

Following the purchase, Jamieson said it did take a little bit of education to get the Bank of America corporate hierarchy on board with the security industry. “They had a couple of deals in their local markets,” he said, but they didn’t have a feel for it on the national level. However, “we sat down in the very early days after the deal closed and educated our risk partners about how the business works, how we underwrite, and they immediately became comfortable with it and wanted us to broaden it.”

At this point, he said, “our challenge is to educate ourselves on the products and capabilities of Bank of America so that we can bring more to our customers.”

Jamieson said the recent credit crunch has not affected the bank’s interest in security at all. Rather, “we’re very bullish on the market,” he said. “We’re not only committed to the market, but we’re looking for ways to grow and expand and bring more to the market than we did as LaSalle. We’re very proud of what we accomplished as LaSalle and we want to build upon that.”