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New Owners for 2 Mortgage Units

Recent mergers, acquisitions & corporate activity

January 8, 2007

By COCO SALAZAR


photo of Coco Salazar

Two mortgage deals with big players topped the latest mergers, acquisitions and other corporate activity in real estate finance.

On Jan. 1, InterBay Funding LLC changed its name to Bayview First Funding LLC, according to an announcement from parent Bayview Financial. The unit is a seller finance subsidiary.

Columbia Bancorp recently said it assigned Chief Financial Officer Greg B. Spear the additional role of chief administrative officer, which will give him the responsibility of strategic oversight and company expansion plans.

For the third quarter 2006, Freddie Mac reported that it expects a net loss of approximately $550 million, compared to net income of $880 million in the same period a year earlier, as a 50-basis-point decline in long-term interest rates caused a reversal of mark-to-market gains on derivatives and credit guarantee assets and obligations recognized in the first half of the year.

Moody's Investors Service announced that it placed the servicer ratings of Mortgage Lenders Network USA Inc. on watch for a possible downgrade due in part to the lender's recent announcement that it ceased funding wholesale loans, laid off a portion of its staff and placed on temporary furlough a substantial portion of its remaining staff. Currently, MLN is rated SQ3 as a Primary Servicer of prime, subprime and second lien loans.

"The recently announced changes may have a material negative impact on both the company's servicing ability as well as its already below average servicing stability," Moody's explained. "These operational changes may also impact residential mortgage-backed securities backed in whole or in part by loans originated or serviced by MLN."

Texas-based State National Bancshares Inc. announced it has merged into Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A., and is now part of Banco's U.S. retail and commercial banking unit.

First Guaranty Bank will pay $13 million to purchase Homestead Bancorp Inc. in a deal expected to close in the second quarter and make it the fifth-largest bank in Louisiana, according to an announcement.

"In addition, Homestead Bank is a major home loan lender in our area," a First Guaranty executive said in the announcement. "We expect that their expertise and knowledge of their respective markets will enhance the combined entity's mortgage lending activities."

M&T Mortgage Corp. merged into M&T Bank, effective Jan. 1, a move that allows M&T to "serve customers more effectively, creates marketing synergies and improves operating efficiency," according to an announcement.

In Flint, Mich., Citizens Banking Corp. recently announced it completed acquiring Republic Bancorp Inc. in a $1.05 billion stock-and-cash deal. The new combined entity, Citizens Republic Bancorp, is the 45th-largest bank holding company headquartered in the nation, the second-largest in Michigan, and was scheduled to begin trading on NASDAQ under the symbol CRBC on Jan. 3.

New Century Mortgage Corp. completed the purchase of certain assets and assumption of certain lease obligations related to the mortgage servicing operations of Indiana-based Irwin Mortgage Corp., according to an announcement by California-based parent New Century Financial Corp.

"This acquisition will allow us to increase scalability, reduce servicing costs and improve time zone management while also expanding our expertise in servicing Alt-A and prime mortgage loans," an executive of the parent said in the written statement.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank said it completed the $430 million acquisition of MortgageIT Holdings Inc., which will become a part of Deutsche's residential mortgage backed securities group that will be headed by Doug Naidus, CEO of MortgageIT. The deal is amongst the series of investments Deutsche has made in the U.S. mortgage markets, including that of Chapel Funding last year and the recent joint venture with the Hispanic National Mortgage Association.

"As a leader in the US fixed income markets with a strong and growing residential mortgage business, adding a top mortgage originator like MortgageIT is a compelling strategic fit for our business," said Phil Weingord, Head of Global Markets in the Americas.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]


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