Fifth Third Bancorp has lured away lease origination officers from two competitors in order to open leasing offices in Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Darren Lossia, a former Comerica Leasing Corp. employee, was tapped to run Fifth Third's Detroit office, and John C. Cain, formerly with Integra Financial Corp., was hired to run its new Pittsburgh office.

David A. Jackson, senior vice president of Fifth Third Leasing Co., said the two men were hired because of their expertise in their respective markets.

The hirings by the 25-year-old Fifth Third Leasing helped boost the company's offices to 11.

Last year the company opened an office in Chicago and recruited Jennifer Larson, a lease origination officer from CIT Group, to run it.

With $1 billion of assets, Fifth Third Leasing handles commercial and industrial equipment ranging in value from $100,000 to $25 million, said Mr. Jackson. The company originated $511 million in new leases in 1995.

"They've always been an aggressive player in the leasing business," said Joseph Duwan, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "They're expansion-minded, and some of that expansion has been de novo."

Mr. Jackson said Fifth Third is not hesitant to enter markets where it doesn't have a bank. "Many of the offices in the cities in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana preceded banking locations," he said. "It's not uncommon for us to be out in front."

Mr. Jackson said Pittsburgh and Detroit have demographics similar to those of other cities where the leasing company has offices, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio; Louisville and Lexington, Ky.; and Indianapolis.

He said a strong showing by the company's new Chicago office persuaded Fifth Third officials to open the new offices. "Its success led in large part to going forward with Pittsburgh and Detroit," Mr. Jackson said.

Fifth Third continues to evaluate markets for new leasing offices, he added. "Most of the companies have heard of Fifth Third through the performance of the parent corporation. We've also been in the leasing business" for a long time, Mr. Jackson said, adding that word of mouth is starting to get around.

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