A California investment firm has reached a deal to acquire a struggling net branch operation -- which it plans to turn around. It's the second time this year the company has been acquired, with the earlier deal turning out to be a lemon.
All Fund Mortgage, which has been closing offices and laying off loan officers, is being acquired by Carlile Investments Inc.
"We're going to take the company and turn it around," Taylor Greer, president of Sacramento, Calif.-based Carlile, told MortgageDaily.com.
He said the move, which will boost mortgage banking capabilities for both companies, was well timed because it would create "a foundation to support an immense wave of refinances coming.
"It's pretty dark out there now but we're going to continue trucking along," he said. "We're going to come in and offer some fresh blood and try to work things out."
He said he would start by personally calling most existing branches.
All Fund had more than 2,500 loan officers in 230 retail offices in 46 states when it was acquired last April by Chris Dunn, who then became its president and CEO, according to an April 26 press release and comments by Suneet Singal, an All Fund director and chairman of CMXL Corp.
The Tacoma, Wash.-based company was founded in 1990 and had been owned by Rick Ardmore.
Singal told MortgageDaily.com that his company had not acquired All Fund as the press release had suggested but that CMXL had merely acted as "an adviser to the transaction" and was going to "build a strategic alliance with All Fund so it could do commercial loans."
But the press release stated All Fund Mortgage "will be held as a sister corporation to CMXL."
The number of All Fund's retail offices and loan officers, Singal said, "started decreasing quite rapidly" when the mortgage industry "started taking hits" in early 2007. He estimated that the number of loan officers is now about one-fourth of that 2,500 figure.
"I think the number of offices," he added, "is down to about 192 now, at least on the books. But there's only about 70 active branches."
However, Singal questioned the accuracy of the reported 230 offices and 2,500 loan officers at the time of Dunn's purchase.
"It was all information provided to Chris by the previous owner," he pointed out. "When All Fund was sold to Chris, there were a lot of things not represented by the previous owner."
He also said that when Dunn acquired All Fund, "It was pretty much the worse time in the market place."
Greer said before Dunn's acquisition, the company had not been run well.
"There was a lot of undisclosed debt and tax problems," he pointed out. "The market also was turning upside down. They tried to clear it up but they kind of got swallowed up by the whole thing."
But Singal is optimistic about the future of All Fund.
"The new group coming over will kind of guide it and so forth," he said. "The All Fund branches should be hopeful now because good, really strong guys are coming in to run it. They know the origination market very well.
"In the next week," he reported, "Carlile is going to contact every branch and figure out who's on board and who's not and get all the numbers corrected. With Carlile contacting them, they'll know in which direction they're supposed to go."
Carlile's acquisition agreement with Dunn for the acquisition of All Fund was "solidified" on Sept. 12, according to Singal.
Carlile is a major stakeholder in Sacramento-based Royal Capital Group, a full service residential and commercial specialist, which was founded by Greer. Carlile will hold All Fund as a sister company to Royal Capital, which will provide marketing and management to All Fund, Greer said.
"This is a great opportunity for the existing All Fund branches, as the Royal Capital Group model can really help them increase their loan volumes and bottom line profits," Dunn said in a statement.
But Carlile's challenges may include more than reviving a weakened mortgage company in a shrinking industry.
Nineteen claims against All Fund for unpaid wages and commissions were filed with California's Department of Industrial Relations from early May to late July, a spokesman told MortgageDaily.com. Two of those have been closed with a total of $34,100 being paid in commissions. Five cases filed in the department's Santa Ana office, claiming a total of $27,717 in unpaid wages, were considered abandoned and closed because all five employees failed to appear at a hearing.
Seven other claims filed in Santa Ana for unpaid wages totaling $31,290 remain open. Also remaining open are five cases filed in Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Ana and Stockton that claim as unpaid amounts ranging from about $5,000 to a high of $67,716 for a total in excess of $110,000.
In addition, a suit alleging unpaid wages reportedly has been filed in Superior Court in Tacoma. The status of that suit could not be immediately determined.
Greer said that Carlile intends to settle all past complaints and claims for unpaid wages and commissions.
"We have devised a few different methods for getting these people on a repayment plan. We have every intention of making good on the previous paychecks they missed out on and then offering them a revived net branching company that's going to make it through this turbulent weather."