It's looking like the 1980s again for some banks modifying commercial real estate loans to troubled retailers, home developers and other businesses.

Lenders with big CRE books are resurrecting a workout method that was common in the sharp downturn two decades ago: splitting loans to cash-strapped clients into two pieces and charging off the bad slice. The healthier piece stays on their books at new terms that are easier for the borrower to meet.

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