OceanFirst in NJ Gives First Look at Coronavirus Exposure

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By Ken McCarthy and Paul Davis

OceanFirst Financial in Toms River, NJ has approximately $ 1.6 billion in exposure to commercial borrowers “who may be susceptible” to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company with $ 10.2 billion in assets made the disclosure in a regulatory filing Tuesday and on a conference call.

OceanFirst, which recently acquired Two River Bancorp in Tinton Falls, NJ, and Country Bank in New York City, said about $ 1.1 billion in loans relate to industries that could be “directly impacted by the pandemic.” “. They include $ 385 million for hotels and food service companies, $ 143 million for retailers and $ 123 million for manufacturers.

The company said an additional $ 485 million in loans is linked to investors who could be indirectly affected by the pandemic. About half of these loans are for shopping centers, while 30% are associated with retail. The remainder of the loans relate to restaurants and warehousing.

OceanFirst has taken a number of steps to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak, CEO Christopher Maher said.

OceanFirst said that as of March 23, it had received forbearance requests from 195 borrowers linked to $ 220 million in loans. It had also received emergency credit requests from 47 commercial borrowers requesting a total of $ 7 million in loans.

The company said earlier this month it would defer some loan repayments for up to 90 days for the most severely affected categories of commercial borrowers.

“We expect the numbers to increase in the coming weeks, but they are very manageable compared to our total track record,” said Christopher Maher, president and CEO of OceanFirst, on a conference call to discuss the perspectives of the company.

“We are far from fully understanding the impact of the pandemic on our economy and have very little information regarding the fiscal stimulus,” he added. “We just don’t have visibility into how quickly people are going to come back. “

OceanFirst said commercial customers had drawn $ 11 million from existing lines of credit. Maher said 104 corporate clients had temporarily closed their doors to preserve cash flow.

Some of the forbearance requests will turn into losses because “some of these loans are going to be in trouble and won’t be able to pay us back,” Maher said.

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