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Lender Looking for Acquisitions

Recent mortgage mergers, acquisitions and corporate activity

June 13, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR


photo of Coco Salazar

An Illinois mortgage banking firm is on the prowl for large mortgage brokers and small- to medium-sized mortgage bankers to acquire, while a New Jersey wholesaler has made an acquisition that will help it expand its Alt-A offerings.

But first, the commercial real estate services platform of FirstService Corp. expanded with the acquisition of a majority interest in mortgage banker and servicer Cohen Financial, the 5th largest commercial loan originator with over $5 billion in volume last year, according to an announcement.

Wells Fargo Bank will acquire the assets of Reilly Mortgage Group, according to an announcement. The acquisition of the privately-owned commercial mortgage finance firm is expected to close next quarter. Reilly, which originates over $1.5 billion in new loans a year and services $10 billion in multifamily loans, will form part of Wells Fargo Wholesale Banking's Specialized Financial Services Group.

KeyPoint Credit Union announced it will acquire West One Federal Credit Union on July 1. The two California-based companies expect to complete the conversion process by the end of September.

M&T Bank, reportedly the seventh-largest deposit holder in New York, said it wants to create a presence in New Jersey with a banking office that will add to its network of more than 650 branches throughout six northeastern states and the District of Columbia.

Placer Sierra Bancshares reportedly closed Monday on the acquisition of Southwest Community Bancorp.

The merger reportedly advances Placer's goal of becoming a statewide banking franchise in California, although the acquired branches will continue to operate under the Southwest Community Bank brand name, Placer said.

Wachovia Corp.'s upcoming acquisition of Golden West has generated analyst skepticism and sent Wachovia's shares down 8 percent the week after the deal was announced.

But Wachovia Chief Executive Ken Thompson suggested the market's reaction only fuels the bank to prove the deal is a positive move, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

It "doesn't surprise me that the stock is down like it is," he was quoted as saying. "What I've found is there's genuine fear out there in the markets about a housing bubble."

Thompson added, "We've got the opportunity to sort of say to the market, 'I told you so.'"

Meanwhile, Indecomm Global Services recently said it will acquire Mortgage Dynamics Inc., a McLean, Va.-based mortgage banking management consulting and outsource services firms.

Upon completion of the merger, expected by June 30, Indecomm, a business process services firm headquartered in Bangalore, India, will adopt the Mortgage Dynamics brand name for its U.S. mortgage outsourcing operation, according to an announcement.

Within the next five months, North Carolina-based RBC Centura Bank will open a minimum of three new offices in Central Florida and expand by 50 percent its regional headquarters through a new Orlando location that will hold about 50 employees, including some mortgage lending employees, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Montecito Bank & Trust partnered with MoneyLine Lending Services to outsource mortgage services on its Web site and assist in the integration of its residential mortgage offerings into its overall product line and sales structure.

"MoneyLine does not try to compete with us for business in the market," said Rodney K. Brown, Montecito president and CEO, in the announcement -- noting the technology can help them "efficiently accommodate market shifts and comply with the industry's regulatory requirements."

First American Bank recently acquired Southeastern Mortgage of Alabama LLC, which specializes in new home construction mortgage lending, the Birmingham Business Journal reported.

Shearson Financial Network Inc. said it reached an agreement to purchase certain assets of EHomeCredit Inc. in a $4.7 million stock-and-cash deal.

The agreement allows Shearson to acquire the mortgage branch network of EHome and the monthly residential production of approximately $35 million, and calls for EHome to change its name to Shearson Home Loans, according to an announcement.

In Paramus, N.J., Opteum Financial Services LLC announced it acquired certain assets of Baytree Lending Co. The deal is part of its strategic plan to further expand its wholesale presence in the Midwest and service the area's mortgage brokers.

Opteum cited Baytree's complementary Alt 'A' product portfolio as one of the reasons it decided to make the purchase.

United Financial Mortgage Corp., an Illinois-based wholesale and retail lender, said it is interested in growing through both strategic acquisitions and internal marketing and recruitment, according to a letter sent out to prospective mortgage brokers.

United said it prefers to acquire well-run retail or wholesale mortgage brokerages and banking operations with annual volume of over $600 million and whose owners are responsible for less than 10 percent of overall originations.

"We recognize that many challenges will face mortgage bankers/brokers in the coming years including the interest rate environment, lack of integrated technologies, regulatory issues, and general competition," but entities, such as United "that have strong business models ..., are well capitalized, and have strong, cost effective technology solutions will prosper in both the short and long term," United said in the statement.


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

e-mail: [email protected]


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