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Busy Pace of Mortgage M&As Continues

Recent mortgage company acquisitions

Aug. 24, 2015

By SAM GARCIA Mortgage Daily

portrait of Sam Garcia

Along with a host of larger mortgage mergers and acquisitions that have been recently announced, several smaller deals have closed.

Late Friday, The Blackstone Group LP announced its intention to acquire a majority stake in Stearns Holdings LLC. That deal was on top of three other recent acquisitions announced by Blackstone-subsidiary Finance of America Holdings LLC.

Earlier this month, Freedom Mortgage Corp. disclosed its purchase of  select assets and employees of First Mortgage Corp.

Other mortgage companies that have been acquired this year include 360 Mortgage Group, Bank of Manhattan's mortgage division, CashCall Mortgage, Mortgage Master and Southwest Securities, FSB.

In the latest round of transactions, The J.G. Wentworth Co.  said it has completed its acquisition of WestStar Mortgage Inc. The deal, originally announced in March, was closed for $67 million in cash and stock.

WestStar, which will now operate as J.G. Wentworth Home Lending Inc., has a staff of 300 employees. WestStar Executive Vice President Roger W. Jones has been named president of the new entity.

In July, HarborOne Bank reported that its acquisition of Merrimack Mortgage Company Inc. was completed. The move, previously disclosed in April, is expected to bolster the size of Brockton, Massachusetts-based HarborOne's mortgage business.

Manchester, New Hampshire-based Merrimack, founded in 1983, reportedly closes more than $1 billion a year in home loans -- mostly in New England. Headcount is 200 employees, and it operates 31 sales offices.

Merrimack Mortgage President and Chief Executive Officer Dan McKenney and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Boyle will retain their respective roles.

In June, First Financial Bankshares Inc. reported that subsidiary First Financial Bank, N.A., finished its acquisition of 4Trust Mortgage. The nearly $2 million deal will add three Texas offices and $0.175 billion in annual mortgage production to Abilene, Texas-based First Financial's operations.

"Joining with First Financial will expand the products and services, including interim construction loans and a number of other in-house mortgage lending products," Troy Fore, former president and CEO of 4Trust, said in the announcement.

In the commercial real estate lending business, JLL announced earlier this month a deal to acquire Oak Grove Commercial Mortgage LLC. The transaction is expected to expand Chicago-based JLL's market-rate, affordable and seniors housing, and healthcare financing expertise. All of Oak Grove's 120 employees are expected to make the transition to JLL.

After the close of the acquisition, which is expected to take place by the end of this year, combined annual originations will be $4 billion, while the servicing portfolio is will be $14 billion.

Sam Garcia founded Mortgage Daily in 1998 and became its full-time publisher in 2000. Prior to his news career he worked in mortgage lending for two decades.

[email protected]

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