The wholesale subsidiary of America's largest subprime lender laid off hundreds of employees.
Argent Mortgage Co. cut about 16% of its 4,000-employee workforce, a company spokesman told MortgageDaily.com.
In a written statement, Argent cited "a more challenging economic environment" in the mortgage industry as the reason.
"In cyclical industries such as mortgage lending, periodic workforce reductions are not uncommon," Argent added. "This consolidation increases our efficiency, so that we remain competitive for the long term."
The 600-plus employees were laid off Monday and consisted primarily of production and corporate employees, and did not include sales positions, according to the spokesman, who could not disclose further details.
"We appreciate the contributions of the associates included in this reduction, and we have taken great care to provide resources to assist them, including transition pay and benefits," Argent said.
The Irvine, Calif-based wholesale lender is a unit of Ameriquest, which last year reportedly funded $82.7 billion in mortgages -- more than any other subprime lender.
The layoffs were not associated to the $325 million settlement recently announced by parent company ACC Capital Holdings, the spokesman said.