Astoria Financial Corp. plans to begin an advertising campaign Thursday morning for a new unit it has created to highlight and expand its business banking.
The parent of Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association, based in Lake Success, said the unit includes a core of about 20 people housed in rented quarters in Jericho, whose efforts will be augmented by branch and district managers.
President and chief executive Monte N. Redman said the 85-branch bank already does a sizable amount of business banking -- it has 17,000 business customers and their deposits grew by 20 percent last year to $440 million, accounting for about 4 percent of the bank’s $11.1 billion in total deposits as of Marc 31.
Astoria’s business loans now account for less than 20 percent of the bank’s total outstanding loans, which were $13.2 billion as of March 31.
The two-stage multimedia ad campaign, including billboards, begins with teasers and is scheduled to run to the end of the year. It is aimed at businesses on Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Westchester.
Redman said the new effort will emphasize personalized service. “There’ll be one individual who will be assigned to that business relationship — to, in effect, be their professional partner,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
Astoria cited “robust” multifamily and commercial real estate lending in this year’s first quarter, although it still reported a 63 percent decline in earnings on the severance costs for 142 employees let go in February, as part of a belt tightening effort.
The corporation had $17.1 billion in assets at the end of the first quarter.
Last year, total assets decreased $1.07 billion to $17.02 billion at December 31, from $18.09 billion at December 31, 2010. The decrease in total assets was primarily due to a decrease in net loans receivable, by $904.1 million to $13.12 billion at December 31, 2011.
The decrease was a result of repayments outpacing mortgage loan origination and purchase volume during the year ended December 31, 2011, the bank said.
Photo: Astorial Financial chief executive Monte N. Redman.