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Chase Deals Dominate Mortgage M&As

Chase Deals Dominate Mortgage M&As

Recent mergers, acquisitions & corporate activity

October 31, 2006

By COCO SALAZAR

photo of Coco Salazar
JPMorgan Chase & Co. dominated the latest mortgage related mergers, acquisitions and other corporate activity.

But first, information management systems and services provider Fiserv Inc. announced it acquired an equity interest in Urban Settlement Services LLC, a provider of title search, real estate appraisal and closing products and services for the home mortgage industry.

The investment in Urban “is consistent with our objective of providing high-quality products and services to the institutions we serve,” said James Puzniak, a Fiserv president, in the announcement. “Fiserv sought a company that is nationally recognized for providing settlement services that met minority-owner requirements. Fiserv’s involvement will enable Urban Settlement to compete more effectively, and in return, we will be able to provide enhanced services to help our clients meet the needs of their marketplace.”

On Monday, Baltimore, Md.-based BCSB Bankcorp Inc. announced it selected Joseph J. Bouffard as its new president and chief executive officer, effective Dec. 4, and will appoint him to the board of directors as well.

“To be able to manage a local community bank, in a market with which I am very familiar, is a formula for success,” Bouffard said in the announcement.

John M. Robbins stepped up to chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association at the group’s recent annual convention in Chicago and left the way open for Kieran P. Quinn to be appointed chairman-elect.

The Federal Reserve announced that it ended enforcement action against JPMorgan Chase & Co. due to a written agreement following a special review of transactions involving JPMorgan and its subsidiaries and the Enron Corp.

The agreement requires JPMorgan to continue to take measures to strengthen risk-management practices, particularly those associated with complex structured-finance transactions, the Fed said.

The Fed also executed an agreement with Prineville Bancorporation to end an enforcement action that had the goal to restore and maintain the financial soundness of the banker.

Under the agreement, Prineville must submit a written plan to strengthen board oversight of management and operations, such as a credit risk management program, including loan underwriting, documentation, grading, and administration; and training and compliance programs, the Fed said.

GMAC-RFC recently announced that it partnered with First Savings Mortgage Corp. to create a cobranded servicing initiative that allows lenders to sell their loans but retain some servicing-related marketing contact with borrowers.

The program prominently “displays the mortgage lender’s name and logo, along with GMAC Mortgage, on the monthly statement and gives the lender the opportunity to include a marketing message, such as the originating loan officer’s name and contact information,” GMAC reported. It helps First Savings and other qualified mortgage lenders “maintain their visibility and trust with homeowners post origination through monthly servicing communications and new product information, resulting in potential increased market share for the mortgage lender.”

GMAC intends to offer its cobranding program to other qualified, mid-to-large-sized mortgage lenders by the end of the year.

Homebridge Mortgage Bankers announced a name change to Refinance.com. The change will better reflect the firm’s corporate vision by focusing on home refinance and will coincide with its new Web site portal www.refinance.com, which will allow refinance loan prospects to “try on” different loan products to determine which one best fits their needs.

Chase teamed up with the First American Corp. to form Quantrix Valuation, a joint venture designed to assist in property appraisals expected to be fully operational by the end of 2006, according to a press release.

“Our venture with The First American Corporation will give Chase more direct control over the quality of property appraisals,” a Chase director said in the written statement. “This will allow us to help create a smooth homebuyers’ experience from mortgage origination to closing.”

Chase also announced it is forming Community Life Mortgage as a joint venture with Epcon Communities, one of the largest builders of ranch-style condominiums.

Community Life’s product portfolio includes features that will allow borrowers to lock-in an interest rate for up to 12 months, and a builder program that has incentives such as extended life of credit documents for buyers, guaranteed one-time closing documents and a final inspection waiver, Chase reported.

Mississippi-based BancorpSouth Inc. will buy City Bancorp in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $170 million, according to an announcement late Tuesday.

The merger with City, the parent of The Signature Bank which operates six full-service banking locations a loan production office, will provide BancorpSouth entrance into its eight state, Missouri.

Shareholders of Saxon Capital Inc. today approved for the company to be acquired by Morgan Stanley Mortgage Capital Inc., according to a press release. The merger, expected to close this December, will prohibit Saxon’s common stock from further public trading.

Citing “recent unusual market activity and inquiries received by the company,” New York Mortgage Trust Inc. announced that it is currently in discussions regarding a possible sale or merger of the company. It has engaged Milestone Advisors LLC as its financial advisor to assist in the review and exploration of its strategic alternatives.


Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.e-mail: MortgageWriter@aol.com

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