Citizens to buy restaurant advisory shop in bid to boost fee income

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Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., said Thursday that it will build out its restaurant finance business with the purchase of a Los Angeles-based advisory firm.

The $165.7 billion-asset Citizens said that Trinity Capital will become a division of Citizens Capital Markets when the deal closes later this quarter.

Trinity Capital provides financial advice to middle-market companies on issues like debt restructuring, leveraged and management buyouts, and private placements of debt and equity, Citizens said. The firm specializes in working with restaurants, consumer and retail, food and beverage sectors and has closed more than 500 transactions since it was founded in 2000.

“The addition of the Trinity Capital team expands our ability to act as a trusted strategic and financial partner,” Ted Swimmer, head of corporate finance and capital markets for Citizens Commercial Banking, said in a press release. “Trinity adds deep expertise in the restaurant, retail, food and beverage, and agricultural sectors while strengthening our overall coverage nationally.”

Trinity employs about 15 people, all of whom will be offered positions at Citizens, the bank said. Trinity’s founder Kevin Burke will remain managing director of the firm after it becomes a part of Citizens.

The deal follows a familiar formula for Citizens. Since its spinoff from the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2015, Citizens has eschewed whole-bank M&A in favor of smaller acquisitions aimed at boosting fee income. It last purchased Bowstring Advisors in Atlanta about a year ago. Before that, it bought Clarfeld Advisors, a wealth management firm in New York, Franklin American Mortgage in Tennessee, and Western Reserve Partners, a mergers-and-acquisitions advisory firm in Cleveland.

Citizens is also expanding its commercial banking efforts into California and the Southwest. Last year, it set up a regional office in Los Angeles and recruited a commercial banker from Fifth Third Bancorp in Cincinnati to lead its expansion into Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Citizens is expected to pay cash for Trinity Capital. It did not disclose a purchase price.

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M&A Citizens Financial Commercial banking Fee income California Restaurant industry