A regional bank has hired a renewable finance specialist from a rival as it looks to begin providing project finance, primarily to solar developers.

United Community Banks has hired Clayton Summers, who worked at Regions Financial Corp. until June, as a senior vice president in its office in Charlotte, N.C.

Summers reports to Rich Bradshaw, president of UCB’s recently renamed commercial banking solutions division, which was previously called specialized lending.

The bank plans to provide senior secured loans to contracted solar projects both on a bilateral basis and in club deals, with tickets of between $10 million and $20 million falling in its "sweet spot", says Bradshaw.

The initial focus on solar is primarily due to the Blairsville-Ga.-based bank's geographic footprint, which mainly covers the Southeast.

UCB has already started working on its first deals, and recently granted credit approval to a $20 million loan for an existing solar project in the Northeast, Bradshaw adds, while declining to provide further details of the transaction, which has not yet closed.

The bank could sign between 10 and 20 deals in the next 12 months and is also looking into the possibility of deploying its own tax liabilities to provide tax equity financing alongside project debt.

SEASONED BANKER

Summers began his career as a relationship manager in global consumer banking at Citigroup in 1998, according to his LinkedIn profile. In 2001, he joined Deutsche Bank as a credit risk management associate in leveraged finance, and in 2006 he moved to Bank of America, where he was a client manager first in middle market banking, then in commercial banking.

In 2012, Summers took a role as a first v.p. in commercial banking at SunTrust Bank in Charlotte and three years later he moved to Regions as a senior v.p.

It could not immediately be established who will take over Summers’ responsibilities at Regions. A spokesperson for the bank was not immediately able to comment.

Brian Tate, who has was head of power and utilities at Wells Fargo for 18 years, has led Regions’ energy and natural resources group as executive managing director in Charlotte since 2014.

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