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Mortgage Ops Being Divested

Mortgage News

As one merger started falling apart over a loan adjustment, several others successfully closed. Meanwhile, mortgage operations are being divested.

But first, the formation of the Association of Reverse Mortgage Specialists Inc. was announced last week. The new trade group was reportedly established to provide quick start basic training to mortgage brokers and others seeking to enter the rapidly growing reverse mortgage market.

First Horizon National Corp. is looking for a new chief financial officer as its current CFO, Marty Mosby, will transition to a new position at FTN Financial. Mosby has agreed to continue as CFO until year-end financial filings have been completed and his successor is in place.

SouthFirst Bancshares Inc. said it filed a request with the Securities and Exchange Commission to voluntarily deregister its common stock. As a result, the company is no longer obligated to file certain reports and forms with the SEC but will continue submitting required filings with the Office of Thrift Supervision.

The deregistration, expected to be effective within 90 days, should not have any impact on the trading of SouthFirst’s common stock, is “in the best interest of increasing long term stockholder value,” and will allow SouthFirst to focus on its operations and revenue growth, SouthFirst added.

PHH Corp. received an extension to continue being listed on the New York Stock Exchange after disclosing that it expects to file its 2005 annual report with the SEC by October’s end. The NYSE will continue listing PHH common stock through Jan. 2, when PHH must submit the filing to the SEC or request an additional extension from the NYSE.

Freddie Mac’s net income for the first half 2006 is estimated at $2.7 billion and its interest-rate and credit risk remain low, according to an update announcement of the company’s year-to-date performance and financial estimates.

Among other things, the McLean, Va.-based secondary lender said its credit guarantee portfolio grew to approximately $1.4 trillion through August, an annualized growth rate of approximately 11 percent, and that its share of government-sponsored enterprise mortgage securitizations was approximately 43 percent, compared to about 45 percent through August 2005 and about 41 percent in the year prior.

Freddie’s regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, released its strategic plan for fiscal years 2006 to 2011, which included strategies for a strengthened regulatory framework for the enterprises such more targeted, in-depth examinations; a review of the enterprises’ capital standard; establishment of a new regulatory regime through legislative change; and increased coordination among federal agencies.

And in the arena of mergers and acquisitions, National BanCorporation in Birmingham, Ala., said it completed acquiring Georgia-based The PB Financial Services Corp.

In Frankfort, Ky., Farmers Capital Bank Corp. said it completed the acquisition of Citizens National Bancshares Inc., a transaction that put a mortgage company under its arm, among other businesses.

Secure Web services provider eLynx Ltd. announced it acquired SwiftView, a provider of services for electronic documents, a merger that is “now the obvious choice for lenders seeking to accelerate the move to paperless,” according to an announcement. The suite of services available include electronic and paper fulfillment, electronic disclosures, electronic signatures, electronic loan folders and investor delivery.

Sunset Financial Resources Inc. announced on Friday that it decreased the number of shares to be issued to Alesco Financial Trust shareholders in the proposed merger to 1.26 shares from the previously announced 1.29 shares. The adjustment is related to a Sunset loan.

Sunset additionally urged its stockholders to vote for the merger, noting that the merger offers stockholders an opportunity to realize upside potential and own a more liquid security, and that the company’s ability to grow and access higher yielding investment opportunities depends directly on the consummation of the proposed merger.

Those sentiments echoed from an announcement Wednesday in which Sunset rejected the opinion of Institutional Shareholder Services against the merger because ISS’ analysis was “deeply flawed and factually incorrect.” ISS had advised Western Investment Hedged Partners LP, a large shareholder of Sunset, to vote against the merger because it did “not think the merger is clearly beneficial to shareholders, as it assigns liquidation-like values to Sunset, a management agreement with an inherently high level of conflicts of interest and losing control of the company with no premium.”

Sunset has received opposition and revised its merger agreement previous to these actions.

Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. announced it completed the purchase of Aames Investment Corp. in a deal in which it will issue approximately 4.4 million shares of its common stock and pay $77.6 million in cash in exchange for all of the issued and outstanding shares of Aames common stock.

Final results of the stock and cash elections will be announced on or about Oct. 5.

On Monday, Wachovia completed acquiring Golden West, according to an announcement. The merged company will reportedly create one of the largest mortgage players.

NetBank Inc. announced it elected Steven F. Herbert as its new chief executive officer and appointed Thomas H. Muller Jr. as chairman of the board. The two men will replace Douglas K. Freeman, who on Thursday will step down, NetBank said.

Freeman came on board when Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group Inc., or RBMG — where he was CEO, was acquired by NetBank in late 2001. He was charged with integrating a hodgepodge of acquisitions that included Meritage Mortgage Corp., branches of NationsCredit Financial Services, First Jefferson Mortgage Corp., Atlantic Mortgage and Investment, Market Street Mortgage and the deposits of Compubank.

“I think a transition in leadership at this point in the company’s life cycle is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Freeman said in the announcement. “Economic and market conditions have weighed heavily on the company’s performance and impeded our ability to fully execute a number of the strategies we intended.”

Herbert, noting that the company’s main objective over the next three to six months will be to stabilize its operating profile and return to profitability, said the bank and conforming mortgage businesses have upside potential and thus the company anticipates it will soon announce a deal to sell the majority of the mortgage servicing portfolio and is exploring alternatives for the nonconforming mortgage business.

Irwin Financial Corp. agreed to sell its conforming, conventional mortgage servicing portfolio for about $261 million to four independent acquirers that were not named in the announcement of the deal. The Indiana-based company expects to record a pre-tax charge of approximately $11 million on the mortgage servicing rights disposition, and for the portfolio and associated escrow deposits to be complete by Jan. 3.

Irwin, which recently also sold its conforming, conventional first mortgage loan production assets to Freedom Mortgage Corp., additionally said that it is substantive discussion with a national mortgage lender for the acquisition of certain assets and assumption of certain lease and contractual obligations related to its servicing platform. The plan being negotiated is for the lender to employ a majority of the existing servicing employees subsequent to the final MSR portfolio transfer.

“With the disposition of the conforming, conventional mortgage segment, we can now turn our full attention to the growth of our profitable and growing commercial segments and to making improvements in our nonconforming mortgage segment,” Irwin said in the written statement.

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