Meridian Bancorp plans to take its asset-based lending business nationwide.

The bank said it has formed a new subsidiary, Meridian Commercial Finance, which will provide asset-based lending to companies with sales between $10 million and $500 million.

Based in Philadelphia, the new subsidiary will lend to below investment grade companies that need money for refinancings, leveraged acquisitions, recapitalizations and turnarounds.

Meridian, a $14.8 billion-asset bank in Reading, Pa., has a $500 million protfolio of asset-based loans in its current market of eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Asset-based lending is generally riskier but more profitable than typical collateralized lending. Banks lend against a company's receivables and inventory instead of tangible assets such as equipment and real estate.

To jump start the subsidiary's loan volume, Meridian is placing its hopes on 30-year lending veteran, Walter Einhorn. Mr. Einhorn, who was named president and chief executive officer of the subsidiary, came to Meridian in August from Mellon Bank Corp.

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