OceanFirst taps insider as bank president

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OceanFirst Financial in Toms River, N.J., has tapped an insider as president of its bank.

The $11.7 billion-asset company said in a press release Thursday that Joseph Lebel will also join the board of OceanFirst Bank on Jan. 1.

Lebel, who joined OceanFirst as chief lending officer in April 2006, had been the bank's chief operating officer since January 2019. In that capacity, he was responsible for operating regions, business lines and back office operations. As president, Lebel adds commercial credit to his duties.

Lebel succeeded Christopher Maher, who remains the bank's chairman and CEO. Maher also serves as the company's chairman, president and CEO.

“Joe and I have worked closely together to build our business over the past seven years, and during that time he has demonstrated exceptional skills as a banker and an executive officer,” Maher said in the release. “The bank is fortunate to have his continuing leadership in this new and expanded role.”

Maher joined OceanFirst in March 2013.

Lebel’s promotion comes less than a month after OceanFirst announced a $6 million loss in third quarter, reflecting plans to sell $68 million in high-risk loans and a $35.7 million loan-loss provision. OceanFirst characterized the moves as a strategic decision to accelerate the resolution of credit losses tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

OceanFirst also opted to sell $298 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, or more than 60% of its PPP portfolio.

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