Ohio bank bringing 13 auto financing jobs to N.H.

A Midwest bank is expanding its auto dealer financing business into New England and plans to hire 13 employees in New Hampshire. Huntington National Bank, a Columbus, Ohio-based subsidiary of Huntington Bancshares Inc., has announced it will be opening dealer financing operations in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont as well as the Granite State. “According to our analysis, some markets look more attractive than others. We were able to find a great group of people experienced in working in financing and working with car dealerships in New England and New Hampshire,” said Scott McKim, Huntington senior vice president of auto finance leasing, of the bank’s expansion plans. “We’re looking forward to having a local presence in New Hampshire.” McKim said he did not know when Huntington would open up shop in New Hampshire because the bank is still building its local team, but he thought it would be before the end of the year. “We’ve already begun origination in Massachusetts,” he added. “In New Hampshire, we’ll probably start in major metropolitan areas such as Manchester and Concord.” Currently, the bank has no plans to expand its general consumer retail banking business to New Hampshire or New England, said McKim. In its most recent financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Huntington doubled its market share in Ohio to 11.8 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2010, from 5.4 percent in 2009 and posted similar growth in Indiana and Kentucky. Third quarter assets were $52.7 billion, inching up 2 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Total deposits were $40.6 billion, an increase of 3 percent from 2009. Now on much firmer footing, Huntington, like many banks, has had its share of challenges in recent years. The acquisition of Sky Financial Group in 2007, including Sky’s troubled subprime lender Franklin Credit Management Corp., forced the write-off of some $300 million loans, and has taken time to work its way through the bank’s balance sheets. Shareholders even sued Huntington over the Franklin deal in 2008, but the suit was eventually dismissed in April 2010. The financial turmoil at the height of the recession hit Huntington hard as it struggled with both the economy and remaining Franklin issues. This led the bank to take a $2.6 billion charge against its goodwill as its stock price plummeted 76 percent, from $7.66 per share at the end of 2008 to $1.66 percent at the end of March 2009. Prior to the Sky Financial/Franklin purchase, shares had traded in the $20 to $25 range. Huntington also took $1.4 billion from the federal government under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, to help clean up the mess it inherited with Franklin. In a letter to shareholders reviewing its third quarter 2010 performance, Stephen D. Steinour, bank chairman, president and chief executive, stated, “We intend to repay our TARP capital as soon as it is prudent to do so. But, we still have no specified TARP repayment timetable.” Huntington Bancshares was founded in 1866 and has markets in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Its stock trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol “HBAN.” – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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