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Mortgage & Banking Mergers

Mortgage mergers, acquisitions and corporate activity

June 5, 2006


photo of Coco Salazar

While plenty of mortgage and banking mergers and acquisitions are in the works, some acquirers are stepping back to digest their conquests. Meanwhile, in an effort to avoid fragmented state regulations, a Connecticut-chartered bank is converting to a federal charter.

But first, the president of technology-solutions provider Fiserv Automotive Solutions, Stuart Angert, will retire Sept. 1 and be replaced by Fiserv Chief Executive Kevin Collins, BankNet360 reported.

The move reportedly comes just six months after the company he built, Remarketing Solutions of America, was split into two business units, Fiserv Automotive and RSA Mortgage Solutions Inc.

The Roaring Fork Employees Credit Union is merging with the Grand Junction Federal Credit Union, a deal expected to complete by July 31 that will allow Roaring to provide mortgages amongst other products, according to The Aspen Times.

FirstBank NW Corp. of Clarkston, Wash., will be acquired by Sterling Financial Corp., according to an announcement today.

The $170 million deal, expected to closed during the fourth quarter, will result in the consolidation of branches and back-office operations, Spokane, Wash.-based Sterling said in the statement.

The combined entity will reportedly have $9.2 billion in assets and $6.3 billion in loans.

In Mount. Pleasant, S.C., Southcoast Financial Corp. said Thursday it will buy the assets of Charles Towne Mortgage Corp. Towne, founded in 1984, is Charleston's oldest independent mortgage company. All of Charles Towne's employees will be retained by Southcoast.

In Tempe, Ariz., Clear Choice Financial Inc. announced it completed Wednesday the acquisition of Maryland-based Bay Capital Corp.

While Bay Capital positions Clear Choice "for growth as a full-service, client-focused, financial solutions provider," Clear Choice will enhance Bay Capital's "market presence and capitalization necessary to grow ... mortgage operations and capture market share," according to the announcement.

Consumer Direct of America, which acquired Shearson Home Loans, restructured its operations to focus exclusively on mortgage loans and real estate related services and changed its name to Shearson Financial Network, according to an announcement Thursday.

"Now that the re-fi boom is over, we have discontinued direct marketing of mortgage loans and centered the company on the 'needs based lending' that has made Shearson profitable these last three years," Consumer Direct CEO Michael Barron explained.

Shearson Home Loans reportedly operates numerous branch locations throughout the country and has production hubs in Long Island, N.Y., and Las Vegas, Nev. The new operations will continue a growth strategy of acquiring regional mortgage brokers, the announcement said.

People's Mutual Holdings and its subsidiary, People's Bank, announced they have filed an application to convert from their corresponding state charters to a federally-chartered mutual holding company and federal savings bank.

"As a federally-chartered institution, however, the bank's ability to open new branches, make acquisitions and expand existing businesses in other states will be less complicated, less costly and much faster," said John A. Klein, chairman and chief executive, in the announcement. "Our plans to grow our geographic footprint, coupled with our experience in expanding our residential mortgage lending in New York and Massachusetts last year, convinced us that the federal charter is the right course for us to take to facilitate our continued growth."

The change would shift regulation from the Connecticut State Department of Banking, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve to the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Several lenders have recently come under scrutiny for acquiring companies and wanting to switch from state charters to federal charters because the conversion removes state-chartered entities from the requirement to obey state anti-predatory lending laws, which are considered to offer more protection for consumers than federal regulation.

Speaking of regulators, the agency that keeps an eye on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, announced it sent to the Federal Register for publication and public comment a proposed regulation to require the government sponsored enterprises to establish and maintain a record retention program.

"Under the proposal, the Enterprises will have an obligation to maintain and promptly produce records useful in regulatory examinations and other proceedings," said OFHEO Acting Director James Lockhart in the announcement. "It will also help the Enterprises by bringing consistency to their own internal management of information," as it require the GSEs to establish internal controls, procedures, and training programs.

The rule is open for public comment for 60 days.

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

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