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Merger Collapses, 2 Companies Launched

Merger Collapses, 2 Companies LaunchedRecent mergers, acquisitions and corporate activity

January 2, 2008

By SAM GARCIA

A deal to sell PHH Mortgage has collapsed. Meanwhile, two new mortgage companies have been launched.

Melville, N.Y.-based Vertical Lend Inc. announced today it has changed its name to World Alliance financial Corp. The move was made “to better align the company’s identity with its expanded product and service offerings, correlating with its recent acquisition by KBC Financial Products, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belgian-based KBC Bank NV.”

The company’s wholesale lending unit and reverse mortgage lead provider, Lender Lead Solutions, will maintain its current name.

World Alliance, which claims to be “among the top three reverse mortgage providers in the country,” recently announced the hiring of 100 new employees and plans to add 60 more this month. The reverse lending unit was previously operated as Mortgage Warehouse.

National City Corp. slashed its quarterly dividend by half to $0.21 per share, according to an announcement today. The move follows Monday’s disclosure that the Cleveland-based company would eliminate 900 wholesale lending jobs and stop accepting mortgage broker business.

“Today’s environment requires aggressive steps to overcome the near-term challenges facing the industry and our company,” National City Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Peter E. Raskind said in the statement. “Our board and management strongly believe that this action is necessary to help meet the challenges ahead and to continue as a strong competitor in the financial services industry.”

National City projects 2008 mortgage originations of $15 billion to $20 billion.

Express Capital Mortgage Inc. launched operations in Chandler, Ariz., according to an announcement Friday. The company said it plans to expand rapidly with its advanced technologies and originator commission structures.

Hatteras Financial Corp. has launched in Winton-Salem, N.C., according to a filing with the state. The CEO was listed as Michael R. Hough, while the president was listed as Benjamin M. Hough. On its Web site, the company says it operates as a real estate investment trust, while published reports indicate it will acquire mortgage investments backed by loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae.

A deal where GE Capital Corp. was to acquire PHH Corp. then sell the mortgage operations to The Blackstone Group affiliate Pearl Mortgage Acquisition 2 LLC has collapsed, PHH said in a statement Tuesday. The deal fell apart after Pearl was unable to obtain funding. The termination of the deal will cost Blackstone $50 million.

Marshall & Ilsley Corp. reported today it completed its acquisition of First Indiana Corp. Shareholders of the Indianapolis-based company will receive $32 in cash for each share of First Indiana common stock.


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