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WaMu, New Century Make Moves

WaMu, New Century Make Moves

Mortgage mergers, acquisitions and corporate activity

February 6, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR

photo of Coco Salazar
A major expansion at Washington Mutual and an acquisition of a warehouse lender by New Century top the latest mergers, acquisitions and other corporate activity in real estate finance.

Seattle Financial Group announced it acquired Turnure & Associates, a property and casualty insurance broker, that it named Seattle Insurance Group.

In Lancaster, Pa., Fulton Financial Corp. said it completed acquiring Columbia Bancorp, Columbia, Md., in a deal valued at approximately $306 million.

The parent of Fulton Mortgage Co. and Resource Mortgage will operate Columbia Bank as a separate subsidiary, according to an announcement.

First Banks Inc. recently announced it signed a stock purchase agreement to acquire First Independent National Bank.

The St. Louis, Mo.-based banker said the acquisition of the Plano, Texas-based banking franchise complements its existing footprint in the Lone Star State and its objectives to expand it, as this deal represents the third strategic expansion transaction recently announced or completed there.

Bimini Mortgage Management Inc. said it will change its name to Opteum Inc. and will being trading on the New York Stock Exchange as OPX starting Feb. 10.

The real estate investment trust invests in residential mortgage-related securities and originates loans through its REIT subsidiary, Opteum Financial Services.

In Bowling Green, Ohio, Sky Financial Group Inc. said Friday it executed a definitive agreement to acquire Waterfield Mortgage Company Inc. and subsidiary Union Federal Bank of Indianapolis in a $330 million deal expected to close in the third quarter.

The transaction is for the acquisition of Waterfield’s retail and commercial banking business conducted primarily through Indianapolis, Ind.-based Union, which operates 44 full-service banking centers, according to the announcement.

Sky said the acquisition provides “a great opportunity” to expand further in major Midwestern metropolitan areas.

Waterfield will be selling its mortgage banking businesses in separate transactions, which includes the previously announced agreement with American Home Mortgage Corp. Waterfield recently disclosed that about 850 mortgage employees will be laid off in connection to the agreement.

In Seattle, Washington Mutual Inc. said today it is planning to open between 150 to 200 new retail banking stores this year to the network of 2,140 as of yearend 2006.

“Washington Mutual is well-situated to continue attracting new households and to expand our store network,” to drive growth within its existing markets, said Kenneth Kido, president of retail banking, in the announcement.

New Century Warehouse Corp. paid about $10 million for certain assets and assumption of certain related liabilities of Access Lending Corp., parent company New Century Financial Corp. announced Friday. Access is entitled to receive additional payments for two years, based upon profitability.

“We are excited about integrating the warehouse lending business into our operations, which will allow us to enter this growing but underserved market,” said New Century executive Kevin M. Cloyd in the announcement.

Sugarland, Texas-based Access is a privately held specialty finance company that provides warehouse lending services to “middle-market” residential mortgage bankers, those who originate approximately $5 million to $100 million per month, New Century said.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.e-mail: MortgageWriter@aol.com

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