ServisFirst Bancshares in Birmingham, Ala., has launched a health care banking division.

The new unit will provide banking services to health care providers in the Southeast, including hospitals, large physician practices and nursing home facilities, according to the company's Wednesday press release.

The health care banking unit will be led by Bill Berrell, who most recently served as vice president and team leader for Fifth Third Bancorp's (FITB) health care and public funds banking group.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to start a health care initiative and build a health care portfolio with the bank," Berrell said in an interview with American Banker on Wednesday.

Berrell's leadership and experience in health care banking "reinforces ServisFirst Bank's commitment to the Tennessee region, specifically by growing both the health care banking and the middle market segments across the Southeast," Bradford Vieira, commercial banking manager for ServisFirst Bank Tennessee, said in the release.

A growing number of banks, including Huntington Bancshares (HBAN), KeyCorp (KEY) and Opus Bank, have turned to the health care sector as a way to book loans.

Berrell has also served as senior vice president of health care banking at Regions Financial (RF). Regions sued Berrell in 2007 after he left the company for a similar position at U.S. Bancorp (USB), claiming that he took confidential information and trade secrets to his new employer.

Regions was unable to prove the charges, according to Berrell, who said in an interview that he did not have a noncompete agreement with the company. The case was dismissed, according to documents filed at the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

The $3.4 billion-asset ServisFirst also announced Wednesday that it has added veteran banker William Dacko as senior vice president of correspondent banking for its Florida region. Dacko previously served as senior vice president of business development with Independent Bankers Bank.

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