For midwest money manager O'Brien-Staley, the disaster that is the New York City taxi industry appears opportunistic. They have acquired hundreds of medallion loans secured by more than 400 medallions from Signature Bank, according to regulatory filings and interviews. This represents about 3% of the over 13,000 medallions that are in use or in storage in New York City.
Lenders like Signature and Capital One have suffered increasing losses on medallion loans as Uber and Lyft have both up-ended the industry. This has also led many cab drivers, who once banked on their medallions for retirement, to severe financial distress.
Meanwhile, regulators are investigating predatory lending within the medallion industry and prices for a medallion have fallen to as low as $110,000 from about $1 million at the start of the decade. Banks that haven't refinanced their loans and don't want to compromise with borrowers may see selling to private equity and hedge funds as an opportunity, also.