City National Bank in Los Angeles has launched a national business to focus on the food and beverage industries.

The $42.8 billion-asset bank, which was sold last year to Royal Bank of Canada, said in a press release Thursday that David Hasenbalg, a former managing director at GE Capital's food and beverage group, will lead the effort. Hasenbalg, hired in May, is City National's national food and beverage manager.

Hasenbalg is expected to build a team of "experienced bankers" specializing in serving food processors and distributors and grocery retailers "with expertise in sales, credit, sales management, operations and capital markets," City National said.

Hasenbalg joined GE Commercial Finance in 1996, managing GE Capital's food companies in the west region. He started his career as a national sales manager for E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., where he ran the company's operations in England, Belgium and Germany.

Hasenbalg "is an expert serving the financial needs of the nation's food and beverage industries and we are pleased to have him join City National," Robert Iritani, executive vice president of the company's specialty banking division and regional executive for Orange County, said in the release.

City National specializes in industries such as entertainment, health care and restaurants. The company and its investment affiliates manage $58.3 billion in client investment assets.

"I think the bank thought that food and beverage was another good deep domain vertical that they want to invest in and continue that expertise that they provide their clients," Hasenbalg said in an interview.

City National has 74 branches in California, Nevada, New York, Georgia and Tennessee. Hasenbalg will work from an office in Irvine, Calif.

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