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Service Providers Dominate Recent M&As

Service Providers Dominate Recent M&AsRecent mergers, acquisitions and corporate transactions

May 24, 2005


This week’s corporate transactions involve a mortgage education provider, a mortgage outsourcer and a title insurer.

Matrix Bancorp Inc. recently reported that subsidiary Matrix Bank sold “substantially all of the assets of its trust operations division,” which were utilized to serve as custodian or trustee for various customers of Matrix Settlement & Clearance Services LLC in connection with mutual fund clearing and settlement activities. The deal’s closing was part of the previously disclosed transaction with MG Colorado Holdings Inc.

Matrix, reportedly a Denver, Colo.-based thrift holding company, says that, through its subsidiaries, one of its focuses is mortgage banking, which includes the origination of home loans and servicing residential mortgage portfolios for investors.

Chicago, Ill.-based Kaplan Professional announced its acquisition of Houston, Texas-based The Real Estate School, a provider of real estate licensing and continuing education.

The acquired company will become part of Kaplan’s Leonard-Hawes Real Estate School, which offers mortgage licensing and continuing education throughout Texas, according to the announcement.

“The Real Estate School’s locations and experienced instructors will enable us to provide more licensing and continuing education classes throughout the Houston market,” said Josh Levenson, president of Kaplan Professional Schools, in the prepared statement.

MBNA Corp. reported it closed on the purchase deal for Nexstar Financial Corp., a mortgage outsourcing solutions provider based in St. Louis, Mo., to expand into non-credit card consumer finance businesses.

MBNA said it now owns all of Nexstar’s assets, including the home loan origination platform, “Powered by Nexstar,” through which it will offer private label and co-branded home equity loans through more than 5,000 affinity partners. All Nexstar employees and existing facilities are also now part of MBNA.

Nexstar will operate as a subsidiary of MBNA but will continue to use the Nexstar name, the Delaware-based acquirer said.

In Hartford, Conn., The Phoenix Companies Inc. announced it purchased the minority interest in Seneca Capital Management LLC that it did not already own to enhance its asset management capabilities for high-net-worth and institutional markets.

Seneca founder and chief executive Gail Seneca will transition out of the company by the end of 2005 to focus her efforts on real estate investment trust Luminent Mortgage Capital Inc., according to the announcement, and Gretchen Lash will step in to Seneca’s CEO spot effective May 2.

Fidelity National Financial Inc., which provides outsource services and solutions for financial institutions and the real estate industry, announced that its board of directors approved a strategic restructuring plan that is expected to result in the public distribution of a minority interest next quarter in Fidelity’s title insurance operations.

Under the terms of plan, Fidelity will form a title insurance holding company to serve as the parent of its title insurance operations. Fidelity plans to retain an 82.5% ownership position — making the new firm a majority-owned, publicly traded subsidiary of Fidelity.

Upon completion of the plan, Fidelity president Randy Quirk will become the new title holding company’s CEO.

Fidelity says it expects its headquarters and the new firm’s to remain in Jacksonville, Fla.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for

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