Provident Bank in Montebello, N.Y., has hired another team of bankers away from rival bank, this time tapping four bankers from Signature Bank to run a new lending office on Long Island.

The $4 billion-asset unit of Provident New York Bancorp (PBNY) said Tuesday that the new office will be co-managed by Steven Krausner and Frank Sabalja, who led a team at Signature (SBNY) that specialized in lending to middle-market clients such as owners of taxi fleets who look to finance the purchase of medallions, real estate and varied business ventures. They will be joined by Steven Reisner and Maria Rutigliano-Rolo.

The move is consistent with Provident's strategy of boosting its commercial lending in the New York area by hiring seasoned lenders with established books of business. That the latest hires are from Signature is particularly noteworthy because the 12-year-old Signature has grown into a $16.6 billion-asset bank using precisely the same strategy.

Provident also has lured commercial lenders from such rivals as Herald National Bank, Capital One Financial (COF) and First Republic Bank (FRC), as well as from banks outside the New York market. The bank now has 17 teams of lenders that serve the New York City market.

The four former Signature bankers will operate out of a new office in Melville, N.Y., where they will be joined by Tom Kokinias and Jeffrey Wall, who are expected to move from Provident's office in Manhattan.

David Bagatelle, Provident's New York City market president, said in an interview Wednesday that the opening of a Long Island office is a "first step" toward a broader expansion there.

"We see the opportunity on Long Island as being tremendous, not only because of the consolidation that has occurred but also because of the number of potential clients that actually operate on Long Island," he said.

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