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Mortgage Shakeups

Mortgage Shakeups

Recent mergers, acquisition & corporate activity

January 2, 2007

By COCO SALAZAR

photo of Coco Salazar
The latest corporate activity in mortgage banking was topped by Merrill Lynch & Co.’s acquisition of a subprime mortgage lender.

Citigroup Inc. recently agreed with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to continue to strengthen risk-management practices, particularly those associated with complex structured-finance transactions. The written agreement follows a special review of transactions involving Citigroup and its subsidiaries and the Enron Corp.

Cadence Financial Corp. announced that its stock began trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “CADE.” Previously, the company’s stock traded on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol “NBY.”

Countrywide Financial Corp. recently said it expected to withdraw by yearend 2006 the listing of its common stock from NYSE Arca Inc., formerly the Pacific Exchange, to eliminate duplicative administrative requirements inherent with dual listings as a result of the NYSE Group’s recent merger with Archipelago Holdings, the parent company of NYSE Arca. The common stock will continue to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Intermountain Bank has taken on the name of its home office, Kirkpatick Bank, “to pay tribute to the long standing history of the Kirkpatrick Family,” according to its Web site.

Greater Atlantic Financial Corp. said it plans to restate financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarterly periods ended Dec. 31, 2005, and March 31, 2006, and for the years ended September 30, 2004 and 2005 because of losses related to aggregating approximately $1.4 million discovered in a previously reported investigation into an unreconciled inter-company account at Greater Atlantic Mortgage Corp.

The company’s audit committee reportedly concluded that the warehouse account maintained by the mortgage unit at Greater Atlantic Bank, which terminated the operations of Greater Atlantic last March, had not been properly reconciled and decided on the restatements because of the cumulative amount of the loss. The preliminary balance of the unreconciled inter-company account was approximately $2.1 million, but that amount might materially increase or decrease based on the results of the ongoing investigation and the impact it would have on historical consolidated financial statements is unknown.

Effective today, depository institutions with assets of $36 million or less as of Dec. 31, 2006, are exempt from collecting Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data in 2007, the Federal Reserve said on Friday. The asset-size exemption increased from $35 million due to the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the twelve-month period ending in November 2006.

Meanwhile, due to a 3.32% increase in the CPI index, the annual adjustment on asset-size thresholds under the Community Reinvestment Act regulations defines a “small bank” as one that, as of Dec. 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.033 billion and an “intermediate small bank” as one with assets below that amount but at least $258 million, the Fed said.

Gateway Financial Services changed its name to Wealthbridge Mortgage to better reflect its core mission of providing mortgage financing and long term financial solutions. The company, which says it is one of the leading mortgage providers in the Pacific Northwest, also announced it started the new year at a new headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., that is double the square footage of their previous facility in Portland.

After having declared Fannie Mae as adequately capitalized in third quarter 2006, the Office of Federal Housing and Enterprise Oversight announced that Fannie’s restated results show the company was significantly undercapitalized for fourth quarters 2002 and 2003. The regulator also noted that, because there was no restatement prior to 2002, the secondary lender could have been significantly undercapitalized for some time prior to 2002.

“While the significantly undercapitalized position for these time periods is indeed noteworthy and reflective of financial reporting errors, additional regulatory action is not needed at this time as Fannie Mae is adhering to the terms and conditions of its Capital Restoration Plan, including maintaining capital above the OFHEO-directed requirement and restricting retained portfolio growth,” OFHEO said in the announcement.

Also today, TD Banknorth Inc. completed buying Interchange Financial Services Corp., an acquisition that enhances its branch network in the Mid-Atlantic region and significantly increases its presence in northern New Jersey, according to a press release.

The Wilber Corp. recently entered into an agreement to pay $252,000 to acquire all the capital stock of Provantage Funding Corp., a New York State licensed mortgage banker headquartered in Saratoga County. Following the transaction, expected to close this quarter, the selling shareholder, Robert A. Hayes, will retain his position as the president and chief executive of Provantage.

“Our current market place is stable but not growing,” Wilber said in the announcement. “This acquisition will enable us to expand both our residential and commercial lending into the Capital District and provide our existing and new customers located in our current markets with more mortgage options.

First Internet Bancorp today announced it completed the $12 million acquisition of Landmark Financial Corp. and now has two operating subsidiaries: First Internet Bank of Indiana and Landmark Mortgage Co.

Merrill Lynch & Co. completed the $1.3 billion purchase of First Franklin’s origination franchise and related servicing platform from National City Corp. on Saturday, according to an announcement today. Included in the deal are National City Home Loan Services and NationPoint.


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