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Mortgage Mergers Multiplying

Mortgage Mergers MultiplyingLatest industry mergers and acquisitions

May 10, 2005

By COCO SALAZAR

Mortgage industry mergers are picking up steam — with players in the latest deals claiming new markets and upcoming activity showing no signs of abating. Among this week’s reported activity is the acquisition of a lead company by a credit reporting agency and a national expansion by a wholesaler.

United Financial Mortgage Corp. announced Thursday an agreement to acquire the eight wholesale production offices of Dallas-based AmPro Mortgage Corp., as well as its operations center in Phoenix, Ariz. Financial terms of the asset-structured deal were not disclosed.

AmPro Mortgage noted that it recently made a strategic decision to exit the wholesale prime origination market.

United Financial, which agreed to extend employment to AmPro’s employees at the acquired locations, expects the transaction to boost its annual loan originations by $2.4 billion to $3 billion — which would represent between a 90% to 112% increase over its fiscal 2005 originations, according to the announcement.

“This is a significant development for our company and demonstrates the continued execution of our accretive acquisition strategy,” stated United Financial CEO Steve Khoshabe in the prepared statement. “This acquisition will give us a significant presence in states where we currently have no infrastructure, including Arizona, Colorado and Texas, will add scale in other markets where we currently operate, such as Florida and Georgia, and will solidify our already strong presence in California.”

The merger will reportedly make United Financial the 29th largest residential wholesale mortgage lender and the 58th largest overall residential lender in the country.

The Federal Reserve Board recently approved Capital City Bank Group Inc.’s acquisition of First Alachua Banking Corp. and subsidiary First National Bank of Alachua, according to an approval order, which stated the consummation must be made before this August.

Capital City Bank reportedly has mortgage lending offices in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

The deal between the two Florida-based companies will merge First National under Capital City’s subsidiary Capital City Bank. On consummation of the merger, Capital City Bank would control 22.5 percent of the deposits in the Palatka, Fla., banking market, making it the largest depository institution in the area, the order said.

In Stuart, Fla., Seacoast Banking Corporation of Florida announced that it has completed merging Century National Bank with its Florida East Coast franchise.

Century will continue to operate under its present name as a wholly owned subsidiary of Seacoast and add three new locations in the Orlando area to Seacoast’s franchise.

Seacoast said the acquisition is “a logical extension” to its growth plans into markets with strong demographics and growth. The deal will reportedly allow it to enter into the fast-growing Orlando area and provides it “with an opportunity to further expand our commercial business in a way that complements our already strong retail and commercial base along Florida’s East Coast.”

First Banks Inc., St. Louis, Mo., recently completed its $10.5 million acquisition of Chicago, Ill.-based FBA Bancorp Inc. and banking subsidiary First Bank of the Americas SSB.

FBA, through First Bank, reportedly operates three banking offices in communities in the southwestern Chicago area.

Through the merger, First Banks has said it will expand First Bank’s product and services lines, with commercial and consumer deposit and loan products, as well as mortgage banking.

In Dublin, Calif., mortgage software and services provider Ellie Mae Inc. reported that it acquired Michigan-based Lasso Technologies, a Web-enablement solutions developer.

Ellie also announced the launch of Encompass Anywhere, a new Web-hosted solution of its flagship loan origination and management products.

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