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Mortgage Merger Wagon Keeps Rolling

Recent mortgage-related merger activity

Feb. 18, 2013

By JERRY DeMUTH Mortgage Daily




portrait of Jerry DeMuth

Several mortgage mergers and acquisitions have been recently completed, while a number of agreements have been reached for upcoming acquisitions. A variety of companies involved include commercial, nonprime and reverse mortgage firms.

Fargo, N.D.-based State Bankshares, the parent company of Bell State Bank & Trust, has agreed to purchase The Business Bank and its Prime Mortgage division, both based in Minnetonka, Minn., subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, which is expected by the end of March.

The purchase, upon completion, will nearly double Bell State's mortgage business in the Twin Cities area. The two companies -- which operate in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Arizona -- originated almost $3 billion in mortgages in 2012. The Business Bank also has a satellite location in Naples, Fla.

The
New York investment firm Gleacher & Company Inc., which has been seeking to sell its mortgage lending unit, Westborough, Massachusetts-based ClearPoint Funding Inc., since last November, announced at its Feb. 15 annual meeting that it had sold the lender to Homeward Residential Inc.

Coppell, Texas-based Homeward is a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Palm Beach, Florida-based Ocwen Financial Corp.

Gleacher had acquired ClearPoint in January 2011 in hopes of diversifying and expanding its mortgage-related business. Gleacher will reclassify ClearPoint as a discontinued operation in the first quarter of 2013, according to its report on the sale.

Greenville, S.C.-based CertusBank, N.A., in the past two months, has completed the acquisition of two mortgage banking companies -- Charlotte, N.C.-based Myers Park Mortgage and Columbia, S.C.-based Resource Financial Services Inc.

Certus also has been actively buying failed banks in South Carolina and Georgia to increase its mortgage lending and other lending activity across the southeast.

"Now is a great time to be augmenting our mortgage origination business," explained CertusBank Co-CEO Walter Davis.

Bexil American Mortgage Inc., a San Diego-based mortgage lender, has acquired Castle Mortgage Corp., a full-service mortgage lender based in Birmingham, Ala., that operates throughout the Southeast. The acquisition was closed in January.

Bexil American and its wholesale channel, American Mortgage Network, subsidiaries of Walpole, N.H.-based Bexil Corp., have been expanding rapidly and are now licensed in 17 states.

Pittsford, N.Y.-based The Cabot Group, a property management firm, has acquired Adams Mortgage Capital LLC, a mortgage brokerage firm headquartered in Greece, N.Y.

"With the addition of Alan Adams and his team, we have added the in-house expertise necessary to meet that need, said
Michael Smith, Cabot Group's chairman and chief executive officer.

Smith says the acquisition provides the in-house expertise his company needs to identify the most competitive lenders for specific financing.

Over the past decade, Adams Mortgage Capital has provided in excess of $1 billion in real estate investment financing for clients in some 20 states. These financings include transactions for apartments, manufactured housing communities, hotels, retail centers, industrial parks, office buildings, research centers and senior living communities.

AnnieMac Home Mortgage, of Mount Laurel, N.J., a direct lender of residential mortgage products to consumers nationwide, has acquired Wilmington, Del.-based Louviers Home Mortgage, which specializes in "referral only" business model incorporates formal alliances with such complementary businesses as builders, Realtors, financial advisors, insurance brokers, accountants and attorneys.

"We believe the acquisition of Louviers Home Mortgage will add tremendous value to the AnnieMac lending platform. Integrating their proven business-to-business model into our existing platform creates synergies that will enhance the performance of both entities," said Joseph Panebianco, owner and CEO of AnnieMac Home Mortgage, a d/b/a of American Neighborhood Mortgage Acceptance Company LLC.

Milwaukee-based Guaranty Bank has completed its sale of Milwaukee-based subsidiary Shelter Mortgage Co. LLC to CIVC Partners LP, a Chicago-based equity firm that manages more than $1.3 billion in private equity funds within the financial services and business services industries. Shelter Mortgage offers mortgage loans through partnerships with builders, real estate companies, relocation companies and community banks.

Sterne Agee Group Inc., a Birmingham, Ala.-based investment bank, has acquired Orlando, Florida-based FBC Mortgage LLC, a national mortgage lender with 12 offices in Florida and a single office in Denver.

As a result of the merger, FBC will gain access to new markets and gain additional capital as it takes advantage of a resurgent housing sector, while Sterne Agee -- a century-old investment bank and brokerage -- will gain entrance to the mortgage business, explained Sterne Agee CEO James S. Holbrook Jr.

FBC Mortgage, he says, will be marketed to the hundreds of community banks for which privately held Sterne Agee provides bond trading, investment banking and other financial-advisory services.

Annaly Capital Management Inc., a mortgage real estate investment trust with headquarters in New York, reached a definitive agreement to acquire CreXus Investment Corp., a company that Annaly had spun off as a separate entity, but with whom it continued to share company executives.

CreXus is a specialty finance company that acquires, manages and finances commercial mortgage loans and other commercial real estate-related assets. Annaly owns and manages, on behalf of institutional and individual investors, a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities, including mortgage pass through certificates, collateralized mortgage obligations, and other securities.

"This transaction represents a significant step toward Annaly's commitment to investing directly in commercial real estate assets," said Annaly Chairman and CEO Wellington Denahan in a prepared statement.

Loves Park, Ill.-based Vision Mortgage Group has joined the mortgage team of Northwest Bank of Rockford in Illinois and assumed the Northwest Bank name. Its location, which is now Northwest Bank's fifth office, is also now the headquarters of Northwest’s mortgage banking division as well as a full-service banking location.

Cass Wolfenberger, who co-founded Vision Mortgage in 1999, said the merger was made because it had become difficult for a small independent mortgage company, such as Vision Mortgage, to successfully compete with banks.

Dallas-based Highlands Residential Mortgage Ltd. has acquired Plano, Texas-based ViewPoint Bankers Mortgage Inc., a subsidiary of ViewPoint Bank N.A. Under terms of the acquisition, Highlands will partner with ViewPoint Bank to provide the ban’s customers with residential mortgage serves.

Tampa, Fla., based Waller Investment Management Corp. -- an asset manager, mortgage servicer and mortgage portfolio owner specializing in less-than-prime, non-conforming and other credit-challenged mortgage assets -- has completed its acquisition of Spring, Texas-based Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc., which provides a full suite of services to the reverse mortgage sector including servicing, sub-servicing, loan origination and securitization, and technology.

"The acquisition of RMS," said Waller Investment Chairman and CEO Mark J. O'Brien, "creates a natural extension of our forward platform into the reverse mortgage space and will allow us to capitalize on the customer overlap between the two entities. We believe the reverse mortgage product has significant potential for future growth."

Caliber Funding and Vericrest Financial have agreed to combine their operations to create a nationwide full-service residential mortgage banking organization, offering both loan originations and loan servicing.

"Loan originations and servicing are a natural fit," says Caliber President Jim Ferriter, "and we expect the combined company will generate significant revenue opportunities to support continued growth."

Until recently, Dallas-based Caliber had focused on loan originations while Oklahoma City-based Vericrest only provided loan servicing, points out Vericrest CEO David Schneider.

While mergers and acquisitions involving existing mortgage companies have dominated the mortgage business, two new mortgage companies have been started.

Los Angeles-based KB Home and Lewisville, Texas-based Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. are forming a new mortgage company, Home Community Mortgage LLC, that will offer home loans to KB customers throughout the country.

Home Community will be offering mortgages on-site at KB Home developments starting later this year.

Nationstar had been KB Home's preferred lender since March 2012, when its previous partner, MetLife Inc. exited the mortgage business. Before that KB Home had partnered with Bank of America Corp., a relationship that had been preceded by a joint venture with Countrywide Financial Corp.

Nationstar loan officers who had worked with KB Home's home purchasers under that preferred lender relationship are expected to be transferred to the new company.

Financial professionals John C. Thompson and Bradley T. Kane have founded Madison, Wis.-based Thomas Kane & Company LLC, which is now offering mortgages in Wisconsin, with plans to expand into Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, according to Thompson, who is the new company's CEO.

Funding for its loans, which could eventually be sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is coming from the mortgage bank itself and from lines of credit with commercial banks, Thompson said.

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Jerry DeMuth is an award winning journalist who has been reporting for four decades.

e-mail Jerry at [email protected]
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