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Volume 21 No. 1
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SunTrust bolsters its sports practice by adding Dorfman

SunTrust Banks has hired sports finance veteran Peter Dorfman to jump-start its efforts to become a top lender to teams and leagues.

Because there are few banks that focus on sports, SunTrust’s push to be a major player in the sector could be a welcome development for teams and leagues looking for more competition in the marketplace.

Dorfman began work early last month.

SunTrust to date has been a minor lender in sports, though it boasts a big motorsports business. It now wants to compete alongside sports industry heavyweights Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase for the top deals.

“We have a pretty good finance practice in film and music and decided to take that successful model to the sports industry,” said Thomas Carroll, SunTrust’s managing director, sports and entertainment. “The first thing we needed to do was hire a banker to cover the industry, and Peter had good industry knowledge.”

Dorfman had been with Merrill Lynch for several years, but it was at Fleet Financial before that where he became well-known in sports finance. When Bank of America acquired Fleet, he lost his role there.

Carroll said SunTrust would do more than just look at the four biggest sports leagues, mentioning also minor leagues, NASCAR and even horse racing.

SunTrust’s wealth management unit has also aggressively pursued the athlete market.

Sports finance in the early to mid-2000s was a thriving area, but banking consolidation, the stadium building boom ebbing, and the financial downturn all contributed to a shrinking of the number of lenders. That has limited the finance options in sports.