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JP Morgan Doubles Small-Business Administration Loan Volume

By David Benoit Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said it more than doubled the amount of loans it has offered through the Small Business Administration in fiscal 2010, which made the banking giant the most prolific lender in the agency's program for the year. The New York bank said Monday it delivered 3,386 loans in fiscal 2010, more than double last year's volume as it reclaimed the number one spot in terms of number of loans. It loaned a total of $434 million, triple last year's amount and making it the second-biggest lender by dollar amount. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) remained the biggest lender by dollar amount for the second straight year, with more than $800 million in loans delivered this year, according to data from the SBA. SBA lending this year, however, is far diminished from the levels of 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Bank of America Corp. (BAC) issued nearly 11,000 loans through the program and in 2008 J.P. Morgan led with more than 6,000. Loans to small businesses have been in the spotlight during the economic downturn, as banks have been pressured by politicians and the public to increase lending. Banks have argued the credit-worthiness of small businesses hasn't been solid enough to meet new, tighter credit standards; losses on the loans were steep during the crisis. Last year, J.P. Morgan was the ninth biggest lender by dollar value, and the fourth by volume, according to the SBA. In terms of number of loans, J.P. Morgan leapfrogged Zions Bancorp (ZION) and U.S. Bancorp (USB) from last year. More recently, J.P. Morgan and other big lenders have said that some small businesses are getting more eager for loans, though the tight standards remain important. J.P. Morgan also said Monday it's has approved more than $250 million in small-business loans that were rejected the first time around. "Second look" loans have been one response from the banking world to the pressures for more loans. The loans through the SBA represent only a small fraction of J.P. Morgan's total small business lending. The bank said it had increased total small-business lending by 37% in the first three-quarters to $7.4 billion. The SBA has seen some loan programs boosted by the Obama administration's push to expand lending, and last month was allowed to increase the maximum value of some of the loans it offers in its various programs. J.P. Morgan shares were up 2% to $40.42 in recent trading. -By David Benoit, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2458; david.benoit@dowjones.com

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