MIAMI - In a drive to expand its international business, one of the largest banks in Dade County, Florida, has hired a multilingual banking specialist away from NationsBank.
Capital Bank, a $1.2 billion-asset bank headquartered in Miami, said it had hired David Konfino, a former senior vice president at NationsBank, as executive vice president in charge of international operations.
Capital's international operations focus mainly on extending short-term, trade-related lines of credit of from 90 to 180 days to banks in Central and South America.
Major Regional Player
The Latin banks in turn use the funds to help their customers finance imports from the United States.
Capital last year issued around $1 billion worth of letters of credit to finance such credits, making it one of the largest U.S. regional players in the trade finance arena.
Mr. Konfino said his plan is to build on Capital's existing international operations to develop trade financing for Latin American and south Florida importers and exporters.
Expansion Is Set
He said his first task would be to "consolidate and rationalize" the bank's existing network of 700 correspondent banks in 80 countries.
After that, he plans to extend Capital's range of customers among local companies in south Florida.
Mr. Konfino noted that small and medium sized U.S. companies trading with Latin America or Latin companies have had difficulty obtaining trade financing from big banks.
|Vacuum in the Market'
Most big U.S. banks pulled out of extending credits to Latin companies or for trade with Latin America after running into problems on their sovereign lending in the area in the 1980's.
"The big regional banks are-basically going after large companies and that's created a vacuum in the market for medium-sized, local companies," Mr. Konfino noted.
"We think we can help fill that vacuum and expand our niche."
The banker also said he hoped to expand Capital's network of correspondent banks to new parts of the world, including Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Born in Bulgaria
"We've got solid experience doing business in developing countries and we want to apply that to new regions," Mr. Konfino said.
Born in Bulgaria and raised in Israel and the United States, Mr. Konfino is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Bulgarian and Hebrew.
He spent his entire 21-year career at C&S National Bank, and its successor banks, C&S/Sovran and NationsBank.
While at NationsBank, he oversaw selection of an international banking system and helped develop the bank's corporate strategy for Caribbean and Latin American markets.
As manager of the international division at C & S Sovran from 1991 to 1992, he helped merge the bank's international operations with those of NCNB Corp. to create a single unit after a merger between the two banks.
Founded in 1974 by Abel Holtz, Capital bank has 28 branches and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Bancorp.
The bank had total assets of $1.23 billion and $903 million in deposits as of June 30.
Mr. Konfino has few regrets about moving from a bank with $112 billion of assets to one with slightly more than $1 billion.
"Size can sometimes be a negative," he remarked.
"I didn't see an opportunity to grow (international business) after we were acquired by NCNB.