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Community Bank Grows Through Acquisition

Business First Bancshares, Inc. (“Business First”), the holding company for Business First Bank, has completed its acquisition of Richland State Bancorp, Inc. (“Richland State”) and its wholly owned bank subsidiary, Richland State Bank. The acquisition became effective November 30, 2018, in accordance with the terms of the previously announced agreement.


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“This merger continues our momentum toward our overall goal of becoming the region’s most influential business-focused community bank,” said Jude Melville, President and CEO of Business First. “We look forward to working with the talented and committed Richland State Bank employees to continue delivering to clients the same level of expertise and service they are accustomed to receiving from their bank, along with a broader combined product set.”


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Richland State Bank’s seven branches located across northern Louisiana will continue to operate as branches of Business First Bank. Jerome Vascocu, the former President and CEO of Richland State and Richland State Bank, will serve as director on the boards of both Business First and Business First Bank and as Chairman of Business First’s Northeast Region.


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With the completion of the acquisition, Business First has approximately $2.1 billion in assets, $1.5 billion in loans and $1.7 billion in deposits, and now serves its customers from 24 full-service banking centers.

Stephens Inc. acted as financial advisor and Fenimore, Kay, Harrison & Ford, LLP acted as legal advisor to Business First. National Capital, LLC acted as financial advisor and rendered a fairness opinion, and Kantrow, Spaht, Weaver, & Blitzer (APLC) acted as legal advisor, to Richland State.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

CUNA Mutual Group Acquires CSi

CUNA Mutual Group announced the acquisition of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Compliance Systems, Inc., a privately-held technology company specializing in compliance technology for financial services, to expand the company’s lending technology capabilities.


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Compliance Systems is a provider of financial transaction technology and compliance expertise. The company provides technology that enables delivery of loan, deposit, and other transaction content in adherence with compliance regulations. Compliance Systems’ solutions complement CUNA Mutual Group’s long-running LOANLINER business that credit unions utilize to stay on top of regulatory changes related to their transaction content.


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“Our vision is to transform and modernize our existing document services, elevating our ability to support the needs of credit unions through a simpler and more accessible solution for our customers,” said Robert N. Trunzo, CUNA Mutual Group president/CEO. “At the same time, Compliance Systems will continue to expand and grow within the banking and lending industry that they serve today.”


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With more than 25 years of experience, Compliance Systems currently supports content configuration, data analytics, and compliance risk management for more than 1,400 U.S. financial institutions with a warranty to cover all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The opportunity to bring our solutions to more than 5,600 credit unions, on top of our current growth trajectory in the industry, provides us with a path to grow very rapidly,” said Dennis Adams, president/CEO, Compliance Systems.

Radian Acquisition Adds New Real Estate Information And Valuation Solutions

Radian Group Inc. has acquired Independent Settlement Services, a national appraisal and title management services company. The acquisition is consistent with Radian’s growth and diversification strategy, and its focus on the core product offerings of its Title, Mortgage and Real Estate Services businesses.


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Independent Settlement Services provides real estate information and valuation solutions in all 50 states, and offers proprietary disruptive technology through Vendor Information Bridge (VIBe), a web-based, fully-integrated, real-time vendor management and settlement services technology system. VIBe provides lenders, appraisers, servicing firms, due diligence firms, and appraisal-management companies with a fully-automated platform to manage the ordering and delivery of products and services.


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“We are pleased to welcome Independent Settlement Services to the Radian family of companies, expanding our capabilities and providing our customers with the real estate information and valuation solutions they need, powered by best-in class technology,” said Radian’s Chief Executive Officer Rick Thornberry.


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Independent Settlement Services will operate under its current brand and continue to provide the same level of quality products and services to its customers through its office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ed Chezosky, one of the company’s founders, along with the existing senior management team, will continue to lead the day-to-day operations with a focus on serving their customers and growing their business, as well as exploring additional opportunities to offer new and existing services to Radian’s established customer base. In the coming months, Independent Settlement Services will transition to the new One Radian brand identity as an integral part of the company’s Real Estate Services business.

Pretium Partners Acquires Selene Holdings

Pretium Partners, LLC (“Pretium”), an investment management firm focused on real estate, mortgage finance and corporate credit with over $10 billion in assets under management, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Selene Holdings LLC (“Selene”) from funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”) and Ranieri Partners LLC (“Ranieri”).

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Founded in 2007, Selene is the parent company of Selene Finance LP (“Selene Finance”), a Houston-based residential mortgage servicing company. With more than 500 full time employees, Selene Finance is a special servicer of nonperforming, re-performing, REO and performing loans and is able to service in all 50 states. Selene Holdings also includes SelecTitle, a title services company, and New Diligence Advisors, a national third-party diligence and advisory services firm.

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Donald Mullen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pretium said, “Selene is a best-in-class servicer that adds significant capabilities and expertise to Pretium’s residential credit ecosystem. We look forward to further investing in Selene’s technology and platform and working closely with management to best serve Pretium’s investors and Selene’s clients.”

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Brian Laibow, Managing Director of Oaktree said, “Pretium is a leader in residential credit. They have an institutional culture and demonstrated history of growing customer-focused businesses. As we have built Selene with our clients, it was very important for Oaktree to partner with someone who shares that vision. We’re pleased to have found that in Pretium.”

Joe Pensabene, President and CEO at Selene added, “Selene has always been focused on providing flexible and creative servicing solutions to our clients. We’re excited to join with a partner who shares that approach and commitment to the industry, and look forward to continuing to expand our solutions for the residential credit markets.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to close mid-year 2019.

Houlihan Lokey served as exclusive financial advisor to Selene. Buckley Sandler LLP served as legal counsel to Selene. Sidley Austin LLP served as legal counsel to Pretium.

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Expansion Through Acquisition

Today’s vendors and service providers have to offer more. So, how are they doing? Some are going the acquisition route.

For example, Richey May, an accounting and advisory firm serving the financial services and real estate industries, has acquired two IT consulting firms that will enable the company to offer a more robust spectrum of IT consulting services for its financial services clients.

Arrow Partnership, a nationwide provider of management and IT consulting services, and Corporate Blue, a cybersecurity and managed IT services firm, will join the recently launched Richey May Technology Solutions division of Richey May. Both acquisitions will enable Richey May to address the growing IT demands of its mortgage banking clients, which include the needs for cloud-based managed services, strategic technology management consulting and cybersecurity risk assessments.

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“Arrow Partnership and Corporate Blue have excellent reputations for providing a wide range of IT consulting services that span multiple industries,” said Ken Richey, founding partner of Richey May. “As the demand for strategic IT planning and compliance intensifies, these acquisitions will ensure we are able to meet the needs of mortgage lenders for years to come.”

Founded in 2003 and based in Denver, Colorado, Arrow Partnership specializes in technology management, governance, risk, compliance and security consulting services, and digital marketing. Arrow Partnership’s managing partner and co-founder Chan Pollock will join Richey May as executive director of the firm’s technology consulting practice, while senior practice leader Garry Woods will head up the company’s governance, risk and controls practice.

Corporate Blue, based in Southern California, provides IT security, virtual chief information security officer services, cloud security and managed IT services. Mike Wylie, co-founder and CEO of Corporate Blue, will join Richey May as a director in the firm’s cybersecurity practice.

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“In this day and age, strategic IT decisions are a cornerstone of any company’s financial health and potential for growth,” said Wylie. “I am delighted to join Richey May, a company firmly committed to helping companies leverage technology wisely to achieve their goals.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining Richey May and have been extremely impressed with their capabilities and dedication to helping lenders run more efficient, profitable and secure businesses,” said Pollock. “I look forward to leading the firm’s technology management consulting practice and working directly with clients to ensure they receive the highest level of expertise in the mortgage industry.”

Richey May Technology Solutions is a results-driven division of Richey May offering the full spectrum of technology solutions, including cloud services, cyber security, marketing technology, governance, risk, controls, privacy and technology management consulting. Led by technology experts with decades of cumulative experience in executive IT roles, the team is focused on providing pragmatic, real-world solutions that deliver value to their clients’ business.

Also, Sandler, LLC (d/b/a Sandler Law Group), has acquired the business operations of McGlinchey Stafford & Youngblood and Associates PLLC (MSYA), a premier closing and fulfillment services provider for the mortgage lending industry.

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This acquisition further enhances the mortgage compliance and origination ecosystem built by regtech investor and regulatory expert Andy Sandler. Asurity Technologies, a leading provider of compliance management and mortgage loan document technology, expands its operations into mortgage closing and fulfillment. All legal services previously undertaken by MSYA will now be performed at Sandler Law Group.

“With this acquisition, Asurity Technologies and Sandler, LLC have further implemented our strategy to set a new mortgage industry standard for economically efficient and fully compliant software and transaction support services,” says Andy Sandler, CEO of Asurity Technologies and Managing Partner of Sandler, LLC.

“We are excited to join the family of companies Andy Sandler has built to offer our clients expanded mortgage closing services. We are now able to provide mortgage lenders access to a powerful ecosystem with known experts in legal, compliance, services, and technology. This is a great opportunity to provide the marketplace with deeper resources and increased efficiencies,” says Vicki Murphy-Gee, Vice President of Sales, Asurity Services and Executive Director, Sandler Law Group.

Asurity Technologies now provides a full range of compliant mortgage documents and mortgage closing and fulfillment services including outsourced closing functions and CD preparation and legal review, wire orders, funding, and shipping, through a team of over 150 mortgage lending specialists and technologists and affiliated legal experts at Sandler Law Group.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

LenderLive Acquires Compliance, QA Company

LenderLive Services, LLC (LenderLive), a mortgage services provider, has acquired reQuire Holdings, LLC (reQuire), a group of technology-enabled companies that provide compliance, quality assurance and valuation solutions for the residential and commercial real estate market. LenderLive acquired reQuire from L2 Capital Partners, a Devon, PA-based private equity family office. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Virginia Beach, reQuire offers diverse services, including lien release tracking, title search and reporting services, title curative services, due diligence, quality assurance, asset valuation and business process management (BPM) technology solutions. reQuire’s current products will complement LenderLive’s document and settlement services offerings and enable the combined companies to provide additional compliant solutions to their clients.

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“When John Surface and I joined LenderLive nine months ago, we said one of our priorities would be to use strategic acquisitions to build out the services side of our business and enhance the capabilities of the broader organization,” said Rob Clements, chairman and chief executive officer of LenderLive. “We look forward to joining forces with Al Will and his team at reQuire as we execute on our long-term growth plans.”

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“The acquisition of reQuire strengthens our current franchise and solidifies LenderLive’s position as a leading provider of financial and compliance services,” added John Surface, president and chief operating officer of LenderLive. “The transaction deepens our management team and gives us a broad set of adjacent products that significantly expand our ability to serve our clients.”

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“We are very excited to join the LenderLive family. This combination significantly enhances our scale and capabilities that will enable us to deliver even greater value to our clients and new opportunities for our employees”, said Al Will, chief executive officer of reQuire.

Evercore acted as LenderLive’s financial advisor and Ballard Spahr LLP acted as legal counsel to LenderLive in connection with the acquisition.

ATTOM Acquires Onboard Informatics

ATTOM Data Solutions has acquired Onboard Informatics, a provider of neighborhood data and data-enabled turnkey products to the real estate industry.

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“Onboard has a long and accomplished track record as an innovator in enhancing and democratizing neighborhood data assets, paralleling our own mission of powering real estate transparency,” said Rob Barber, CEO at ATTOM Data Solutions. “This acquisition will benefit existing customers of both companies — and the entire marketplace — by providing complementary datasets in a one-stop data shop.”

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Onboard’s neighborhood data is being integrated into the ATTOM Data Warehouse, which blends property tax, deed, mortgage, foreclosure, environmental risk, natural hazard, and neighborhood data for more than 155 million U.S. residential and commercial properties. A persistent, unique ID assigned to every property record in the ATTOM Data Warehouse — the ATTOM ID — will be used to link the new Onboard neighborhood data with all other datasets, and the combined data will be available through ATTOM’s flexible delivery solutions, including bulk file license, APIs and customized reports in a one-stop data shop.”

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“This acquisition by ATTOM will enable Onboard’s customers to conveniently access robust tax, deed and mortgage data, that, when combined with Onboard’s neighborhood data, completes the full property data picture needed to improve decision-making, increase lead generation and grow revenue,” said Marc Siden, CEO and Co-founder of Onboard Informatics.

Founded 15 years, ago, Onboard Informatics fuels sales and feeds decision-making for some of the largest U.S. brands, including Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Weichert. Its data products include area data (neighborhood, metro and residential boundaries along with school attendance zones), point of interest data (restaurants, banks, shopping and more), and community data (crime, population, education, weather and commuter times).

“Not only will our customers now be able to access a broader set of property-related data from one vendor, they’ll also have more flexible options for consuming that data through the various ATTOM data delivery solutions including the ability to consume neighborhood data as bulk files,” said Jonathan Bednarsh, president and co-founder of Onboard Informatics.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

Acquisition Furthers Automated Data Verification

QuestSoft, a provider of automated mortgage compliance software, has purchased Laguna Hills, Calif.-based IMARC, a leader in data verification and audit services to the financial services industry. The acquisition adds IMARC’s services to QuestSoft’s new Verification and Audit Services division, “QuestSoft Verifications.”

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The acquisition enables QuestSoft customers to easily conduct loan audits, as QuestSoft Verifications will now offer all of IMARC’s verification and audit services to QuestSoft’s existing 4506-T and SSA-89 capabilities. This new division brings Verification of Employment (VOE), Verification of Income (VOI), Asset and Occupancy Verifications as well as full loan audits to QuestSoft customers, eliminating the need to use time-intensive manual orders to verify all information needed to ensure loan compliance.

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“Combining IMARC’s verification and audit services with QuestSoft’s compliance software gives lenders a one-stop shop for all of their compliance needs,” said Leonard Ryan, founder and president of QuestSoft. “IMARC also brings with it a strong tradition of outstanding customer service and a dedication to providing high quality services quickly and efficiently, blending well with the QuestSoft commitment to our customers.”

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All IMARC employees transferred to QuestSoft’s corporate headquarters in Laguna Hills, California. Bob Simpson, founder of IMARC, is now serving as QuestSoft’s senior vice president and director of the Verifications Division.

“High quality products, ease of use and outstanding service are the three pillars that build strong relationships between vendors and lenders,” Simpson said. “By combining our services with QuestSoft, we have created the best resource for lenders to handle all of their mortgage compliance, verification and audit needs.”

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

CRM Mainstay Acquires Point-Of-Sale Vendor

LoyaltyExpress, a provider of marketing automation and cloud-based CRM solutions for mortgage companies and banks, has acquired Lending Manager, a point-of-sale and website creator for lenders of all sizes.  The acquisition and integration of both companies’ technologies will help automate lead flow and associated marketing for all aspects of the loan process.  The combined company services 115 lenders with over 15,000 loan officers across all platforms. No sale price was disclosed.

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“The ever-increasing expectation of consumers during the lending process led us to this merger,” said Wayne Steagall, Founder of Lending Manager.  “We are thrilled to partner with LoyaltyExpress. We look forward extending our solutions backed with the power of the LoyaltyExpress creative and fulfillment teams.”

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“After extensive due diligence and market research, it became immediately apparent that Lending Manager delivers incredibly efficient and automated lead capture systems and attractive corporate and loan officer websites,” said Jeff Doyle, Chief Executive Officer of LoyaltyExpress.  “Wayne and his team have developed integrations with over 75 CRM, loan origination, lead management, and point-of-sale systems which is a growing requirement of any solution in the mortgage industry. We look forward to integrating CustomerManager with Lending Manager.”

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LoyaltyExpress simplifies CRM and marketing automation for banks and mortgage companies, including one of the top three retail lenders in the nation. Its flagship solution, CustomerManager, is an enterprise-wide, Software-as-a-Service platform that combines lead management, email and direct mail campaigns with a 360-degree view of each loan officer’s customers, partners and prospects. The MarketingCentral service delivers a web-based, sales collateral store powered by custom content creation and integrated print fulfillment. LoyaltyExpress eliminates the need to share sensitive customer data with multiple vendors and has a team of world-class marketing and branding experts with extensive experience in the mortgage industry. LoyaltyExpress is backed by New Capital Partners.

Lending Manager builds custom corporate and loan officer websites for lenders of all sizes. The Company delivers point-of-sale solutions with over 75 integrations with the leading mortgage technology providers. Lending Manager is based in Newark, Delaware.

The M&As Continue

We’ve seen big technology acquisitions when Ellie Mae bought Velocify and CoreLogic bought Mercury Network, but let’s not forget to look at the lending side of the business, as well. For example, Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. (“THL”), a premier private equity firm investing in middle market growth companies, acquired a majority interest in Ten-X, LLC (the “Company” or “Ten-X”), the nation’s leading online real estate marketplace. Members of Ten-X’s senior management team, Stone Point Capital, and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital), among others, will continue to hold minority positions in the Company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Irvine and Silicon Valley, California, Ten-X provides an online real estate marketplace that allows individuals and investors to buy and sell residential and commercial real estate properties using both desktop and mobile channels. By leveraging its market-leading technology platform and extensive international network of buyers, Ten-X empowers consumers, investors and real estate professionals with unprecedented levels of flexibility, control and simplicity to easily complete real estate transactions online. Since its inception, Ten-X has enabled over $50 billion of residential and commercial property sales on its platform.

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The recapitalization will ensure Ten-X has the resources it needs to build on its proven platform, pursue additional monetization opportunities, and execute on its growth objectives. The Company will retain its corporate headquarters in Irvine and Silicon Valley, and will continue to be led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Morse along with other members of its senior management team.

“This investment gives us the scale and resources to accelerate our growth and further expand our platform and product offerings,” said Mr. Morse. “With the support of THL as a partner going forward, we can fully execute on our vision, build on our position as a leader in the online real estate market, and continue to provide our customers innovative products and services.”

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“We are very excited to be partnering with Ten-X, a clear market leader in the real estate industry,” said Jim Carlisle, Managing Director at THL. “We are looking forward to working closely with Tim and the talented management team at Ten-X to further enhance its leadership position and maximize this incredible growth opportunity.”

Wells Fargo Securities LLC and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC acted as financial advisors and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP acted as legal advisor to Ten-X. Guggenheim Securities acted as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to THL.

I’m sure we’ll see more deals like this before the year closes. Stay tuned …

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.