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E-LOAN to Halt Mortgage Lending

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E-LOAN Inc., one of the first online mortgage lenders, is getting out of the mortgage lending business. The move is one of many taken by the online lender’s parent to disassemble its U.S. financial empire.

Popular Inc. reported a $669 million net loss today. The San Juan, Puerto Rico-based company attributed $457 million of the losses to asset writedowns, loan sale losses and restructuring charges for the discontinued operations of its U.S.-based unit, Popular Financial Holdings.

“These results are directly related to the decision announced two months ago to sell the assets and discontinue the operations of [Popular Financial Holdings],” Popular Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Carrión said in the statement. “We will be taking additional steps to further reduce expenses and to close or consolidate unproductive branches.”

Banco Popular North America, which includes E-LOAN, reported a third-quarter net loss of $139 million — including an $87 million loss for E-LOAN.

Popular noted E-LOAN will cease operating as a direct first mortgage lender over the next few weeks. All operational and support functions will be transferred to Popular outsourcing subsidiary EVERTEC Inc. and Banco Popular.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based E-LOAN, which says it has originated more than $32 billion in loans since launching in 1997, will refer loan prospects to a lending partner. It will also solicit deposits for Banco Popular.

After 513 positions were eliminated in November 2007, E-LOAN had around 260 employees remaining.

“The corporation has concluded that an accelerated downturn of the U.S. economy requires a leaner, more efficient U.S. business model,” the statement said. “As such, the corporation is reducing the size of its banking operations in the U.S. mainland to a level suited to present economic conditions.”

Popular, which said its mortgage investments stood at $4.7 billion on Sept. 30, laid off 160 mortgage servicing employees this month in New Jersey.

During August, Banco Popular’s wholesale mortgage division suspended mortgage lending programs in all states outside of Texas. The unit issued a notice today that it will discontinue mortgage lending programs on Oct. 31. All loans will need to be funded by Nov. 1.

In January of last year, Popular Financial Holdings exited the wholesale nonprime mortgage origination business — leading to 627 layoffs.

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