Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) in Columbus, Ohio, has expanded its auto-lending business to Connecticut.

The $56 billion-asset company is offering auto loans in all six New England states, it said Monday. Its Connecticut auto-lending team, working out of a Massachusetts office, has signed up a number of the state's roughly 140 new-car franchise dealers.

Huntington's 60-year-old auto-finance division offers consumer car loans through dealers as well as commercial loans directly to the dealers. Last year, the company recorded record highs in commercial and consumer auto lending, booking more than $4 billion of new car loans, says Rich Porrello, director of Huntington's auto-finance division.

"We stayed in the auto-lending business through the downturn in the industry, and when some of the manufacturers filed for bankruptcy, the thing we did not do was run from the dealers," Porrello said. "So as business improved, it gave us the opportunity to expand, and we think it will ultimately benefit dealers as well as consumers."

Huntington's auto-loan division entered New England in 2010, opening of a Massachusetts office. It entered eastern Pennsylvania later that year. In 2011 it entered Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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