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Mortgage Mergers, Etc.

Recent mortgage-related mergers, acquisitions and corporate activity

January 24, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR


photo of Coco Salazar

While small banks dominated the most recent mortgage-related mergers, acquisitions and corporate transactions, one mortgage banking firm announced plans to divest its conforming operations.

Two subsidiaries of Stewart Title Co., Landata Systems Inc. and Stewart Realty Solutions, will merge to form Stewart Transaction Solutions, according to a recent press release.

Landata is a technology solutions provider for the title industry and Stewart Realty Solutions an online transaction management provider to the real estate, closing and mortgage industries, Stewart Title said.

"This organizational change will sharpen our focus to take these tools from being concentrated on the contract-to-closing phase of the transaction -- to the arena where the transaction is paperless from the moment the real estate agent takes a listing, all the way to having the closing documents being archived electronically," said Travis Wright, the new company's president, in the announcement.

Visionet Systems opened a new business process outsourcing center in Bangalore, India, the New Jersey-based company announced Monday.

The facility has capacity for 600 processors and focuses on loan review, underwriting verifications, lien release, default management and investor accounting to mortgage lending and servicing organizations, Visionet said.

"With seven of the top ten banks using our solutions to drive outsourcing, Visionet Systems is focused on delivering mortgage-specific technology products that bring visibility to the outsourcing process," said Arshad Masood, president of Visionet Systems, in the statement. "Our combination of industry expertise, technology solutions and offshore centers not only lowers the cost for lenders, but also assures continuous integrated improvements moving forward."

Visionet's Web-based systems and processors reportedly enable real-time visibility and on-demand reporting capabilities for lenders.

New Southern Bank recently changed its name to Atlantic Southern Bank.

The community-based bank, headquartered in Macon, Ga., said the name change will create a link between the bank branches and their holding company, Atlantic Southern Financial Group, creating a "single identity in all markets where we operate."

Thus, the bank's mortgage company also changed its name to Atlantic Southern Mortgage Services, the announcement said.

Wauwatosa Savings Bank has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waterstone Mortgage Corp., according to an announcement today.

"The most important aspect of the acquisition is the presence of Waterstone's strong management team who can grow the operation," Wisconsin-based Wauwatosa Savings said in the written statement, adding that it will also allow "both companies to offer products that are unique to each .... [and] grow statewide and nationally."

Once the merger is completed, Waterstone Mortgage will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wauwatosa Savings but retain its name, as well as all its staff, the announcement said.

Macon.-based Security Bank Corp. recently announced it completed its acquisition of Rivoli BanCorp.

The merger, which forms part of Security's strategy to enhance its market presence in Middle Georgia where it will be the largest bank based on the amount of deposits, will result in the opening of a new banking office, according to the announcement by Security, the holding company of mortgage company Fairfield Financial Services Inc.

Heartland Financial USA Inc. said it will acquire Bank of the Southwest in an all-cash deal of $18 million expected to close next quarter.

Heartland expects to combine the acquired assets and deposit accounts into its Arizona Bank & Trust subsidiary bank, which said the merger will allow it to increase its "already substantial investment in the Phoenix marketplace."

Potomac Bank of Virginia announced Sunday it entered into joint venture with Southern Trust Mortgage to form retail mortgage company Potomac Home Funding.

The new company is intended to "better serve" the mortgage needs of Potomac Bank and further expands Southern Trust's exposure into the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. markets, according to the announcement.

Potomac Home will reportedly offer full-service mortgage products, including adjustable-rate mortgages with and without interest-only options, self-employed borrower specialty programs, and vacation/investment home mortgages.

Fieldstone Mortgage Co. recently agreed to sell to Wausau Mortgage Corp. its Broad Street Co. conforming mortgage-lending division, its San Antonio headquarters and all wholesale and certain retail offices.

Remaining retail offices of Broad Street will likely be transitioned separately or combined with Fieldstone's nonconforming retail division, the announcement said.

The transaction, expected to close this quarter, "allows Fieldstone to focus on our core nonconforming loan origination and investment portfolio businesses," Fieldstone said, noting that it will continue to offer conforming products through its nonconforming retail division as well as continue to build its retail and wholesale mortgage lending franchise.


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

e-mail: [email protected]


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