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Flood of Mortgage Mergers

Flood of Mortgage MergersPopular to acquire Infinity, United Financial sold

September 6, 2005



A Puerto Rican bank increasing the size of its footprint in the U.S. mortgage market tops the latest list of mergers, acquisitions and other corporate transactions.

In a move to widen its lien release capabilities, mortgage service outsourcer Fidelity National Financial Inc. acquired DOCX LLC, according to an announcement Thursday.

Alpharetta, Ga.-based DOCX provides outsourced lien release and assignment services to mortgage lenders. Its lien release software platform maintains a national database of county recording office information and recording fee and transfer tax calculators that can be accessed electronically, Fidelity reported.

“The acquisition of DOCX enhances the scale of our lien release capabilities and provides access to a marquee customer base,” said Fidelity executive Ernest Smith in the announcement. “It also provides a viable in-house software platform that can now be provided to those potential customers who operate through an in-house lien release model.”

In Honolulu, Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank announced the launch of its newest subsidiary Central Pacific HomeLoans Inc., which it created with the Aug. 17 acquisition of Hawaii HomeLoans Inc.

Central Pacific said the combination gives it a “much stronger banking operation,” one of the largest in Hawaii with a combined residential mortgage volume of $697 million within the first three quarters of the year.

The strength of Central Pacific is widened by expanded product lines and multiple investor sources, while simplifying qualifying criteria; a mortgage banking team that’s now twice the size as all employees were retained in the acquisition; and greater convenience with the addition of three full-service mortgage offices, the announcement said.

Mortgage Assistance Center Corp., formerly Safe Alternatives Corporation of America Inc., announced it completed a “reverse merger” with Specialty Financial Services Co.

In the transaction, Specialty Financial acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding capital stock of Dallas, Texas-based Mortgage Assistance, which included the issuance of approximately 11 million shares of Mortgage Assistance common stock to three shareholders who currently own 87.1% of the company’s stock.

Mortgage Assistance, which reportedly manages and resells real estate assets, says it has identified growth opportunities in non-performing mortgages secured by real estate.

In Irvine, Calif., New Century Financial Corp. said Tuesday that its subsidiary Home123 Corp. completed the purchase of certain assets of RBC Mortgage Co.

New Century said RBC’s “depth of experience in the prime and Alt-A business, and strong relationships with builders and Realtors, will be important building blocks in achieving our strategic goal of becoming a full-service mortgage provider while delivering a stable and growing dividend and building retained earnings for future growth.”

United Financial Mortgage Corp. recently announced it completed acquiring AmPro Mortgage Corp.’s eight prime wholesale production offices and Phoenix, Ariz., operations center. The transaction is expected to boost United’s 2005 volume by 90% to 112%.

The eight wholesale offices will continue to do business under the name of AmPro, which with its annual originations of between $2.4 and $3 billion will give United the production boost, the announcement said.

The merger will reportedly make Illinois-based United the nation’s 29th largest wholesale residential lender and the 58th largest mortgage lender.

But even as United Financial is still digesting the AmPro deal, it announced Tuesday that it will be acquired by ARH Mortgage Inc. and the Airlie Opportunity Master Fund Ltd. in a deal expected to close this quarter.

As a subsidiary of Airlie, United Financial will retain its name, substantially all of its employees, continue to operate out of its Oak Brook, Ill. headquarters, and keep Steve Khoshabe as its president and chief executive officer.

Khoshabe commented that United Financial was “excited about partnering with a financial organization that is similarly minded in their entrepreneurial philosophy and their commitment to the residential mortgage banking business.”

United Financial will work together with Alliance Bancorp, the mortgage banking investment Airlie purchased a controlling interest in this June, according to the announcement.

Popular Inc. said Thursday that it will buy New Jersey-based Infinity Mortgage Corp. for an undisclosed amount in a deal expected to occur this quarter.

Infinity originated over $220 million in conforming and nonconforming mortgage and home equity loans last year, the Puerto Rico-based bank holding company said.

The acquisition will reportedly further expand Popular’s penetration into the U.S. market and complement its nonprime mortgage lending and loan servicing businesses, the Puerto Rican bank said.

Following the deal’s closing, Infinity’s operations will become part of Popular’s retail mortgage business Equity One Inc.

Popular Inc. announced last month it would acquire E-LOAN Inc. for $300 million in a deal expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for

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