Bank of the Ozarks defends its aggressive CRE strategy — again

Bank of the Ozarks (OZRK): The Story of intelligent fanatic george gleason. The 25 year old former attorney had zero banking experience and only $10,000, but was able to convince a Little Rock Arkansas bank to help finance the $3.6 million purchase of Bank of the Ozarks ( OZRK ). It didn’t matter that Gleason had zero banking experience.

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 · The claim that Bank of the Ozarks is conservative is peculiar for two reasons. First, because the bank’s RESG unit, which, again, is responsible for most of its growth, focuses on the riskiest of the riskiest type of lending — out of market construction and development loans.

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 · Construction lending has become increasingly more arduous in 2017. Sure, there were high-profile construction loans like Childrens Investment Fund lending $1.3 billion to HFZ in May for 76 11th Avenue and its lending of $290 million to Ceruzzi/Kuafu for 151 East 86th Street.

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Bank of the Ozarks keeps bulking up in CRE, even as rivals scale back. And the bank prices for the risks it takes. Its average yield on all loans was 5.54% in the second quarter, higher than the 4.2% average yield of loans in its peer group, according to

 · While many other banks have been methodically reducing their CRE exposure, the $20 billion-asset Bank of the Ozarks has been rapidly growing its CRE portfolio in recent years. The Little Rock, Ark., company, which lends nationwide, has been particularly aggressive in pursuing what regulators say is the riskiest subsector of CRE, construction loans.