Bank of the West in San Francisco is making a middle-market commercial lending push.

The $63 billion-asset unit of BNP Paribas in France said Monday that it will hire 50 people for its middle-market national banking division. The bank will search for employees around San Francisco, southern California, Denver and Chicago, among other areas.

Bank of the West also plans to open new commercial lending offices in several cities this year, though it did not provide further details in a press release. Commercial and industrial loans grew 20% at the Bank of the West in 2012 compare to a year earlier, the company said.

"Middle-market companies are a vital segment of the economy and a strategic priority for Bank of the West," Mark Glasky, manager of the bank's national banking division, said in the release. "Large and midsize companies value our relationship banking approach and our broad offering of commercial products and services."

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