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Berkshire Bank to Cease New Loan Approvals for Firestone Financial Customers
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Berkshire Bank plans to stop originating loans through its Needham-based specialty lender while also pausing lending through a financial technology partnership the bank established last year.

Berkshire CEO Nitin Mhatre said during the bank’s second quarter earnings call yesterday that Berkshire would stop originating loans through Firestone Financial, including for existing customers. Acquired by Berkshire in 2015, the Needham-based Firestone specialized in commercial lending for amusement, entertainment, fitness, laundry, vending and other industries.

Mhatre said the decision to stop originating Firestone loans was strategic rather than a reflection of the portfolio’s performance.

“Getting better before getting bigger was an important part of our strategic focus in 2021,” Mhatre said during the call. “And now, even as we’ve begun to grow our balance sheet in 2022, we continue to look for opportunities to improve our balance sheet mix and align it better with our core strategies.

Berkshire had total loans at the end of the second quarter of $7.8 billion, up from $7.2 billion at the end of the first quarter. The Firestone portfolio balance was $165 million, and Mhatre said no Firestone loans were in deferral and non-performing loans represented less than 1 percent of that portfolio. Mhatre said in response to an analyst’s question that he expects the loan portfolio will take 10 to 12 quarters to be depleted.

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