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Biggest Gets Bigger, Others Struggle

Federal regulators recently announced a number of actions, including approval of a merger that will create a financial institution with more deposits and residential originations than any other U.S. firm. Meanwhile, a formerly high-flying subprime lender is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Two off-balance sheet entities failed to make quarterly interest payments on notes guaranteed by NovaStar Mortgage Inc., triggering defaults on $81 million in notes, an 8-k filing by NovaStar Financial Inc. with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday stated. The debt has been accelerated, prompting cross defaults and blocking the company’s access to $8 million in collateral on letters of credit held by Wachovia Bank.

“A material delay or reduction in the company’s receipt of the cash collateral would have a material adverse effect on the company’s liquidity position and could force the company to seek the protection of applicable bankruptcy laws,” the filing stated.

An investor class action filed against NovaStar in 2007 was dismissed last week. In his ruling, the judge noted that bad business decisions do not constitute securities fraud, according to the Associated Press.

New York Mortgage Trust Inc. began trading on the NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbol NYMT on Thursday, an announcement last week said. The real estate investment trust, which previously traded on the OTC Bulletin Board, said it invests in and manages residential mortgage-backed securities.

A cease and desist order against Banco de Chile and Banco de Chile Miami Branch was terminated by the Federal Reserve Board, a press release Wednesday said.

Millennium Bankshares Corp., the parent of Millennium Bank, N.A., has entered an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond to preserve capital. Among provisions of the agreement are a requirement that the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors approve any dividend payments and distributions of interest, principal or other sums on subordinated debentures or trust preferred securities. Reston, Va.-based Millennium must also obtain approval to incur, increase, or guarantee any debt, including debt to shareholders.

Early last year, Millennium Bankshares Corp. said it would wind down mortgage operating subsidiaries and revise 2006 earnings down by $4.5 million because of potential subprime repurchase exposure amid credit quality issues that surfaced in its portfolio held for sale.

The Federal Reserve Board announced Thursday its approval of Bank of America Corp.’s acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. The deal, which is still subject to approval by Countrywide shareholders, will create the biggest bank and residential mortgage lender in the country.

With $711.7 billion in deposits, BoA “is the largest depository organization in the United States measured by deposits,” the Fed said in its order approving the acquisition. The Charlotte, N.C., bank controls 10 percent of the nation’s insured deposits.

With $61.7 billion in deposits, Countrywide is the 17th largest depository institution, the order said. The Calabasas, Calif.-based company is the biggest U.S. residential lender, with $408.2 billion in originations last year.

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