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Countrywide Promotes Key Executives

Countrywide Financial Corp. here has promoted Stanford L. Kurland to president, and the long-time executive has reconfirmed Countrywide's commitment to the mortgage business even as it continues to diversify.

At the same time it named David Sambol as president and chief operating officer of its subsidiary Countrywide Home Loans.

In a separate announcement, Countrywide, the nation's third largest mortgage servicer with a $608 billion portfolio at the end of the third quarter, announced it is replacing its current auditor Grant Thornton with KPMG effective for the 2004 calendar year.

Mr. Kurland will retain his title of chief operating officer of Countrywide. He had been serving as executive managing director of Countrywide Financial Corporation and president of Countrywide Home Loans.

In his role as president of CFC, Mr. Kurland will lead the development and execution of the company's strategic plans and objectives and will direct all corporate and subsidiary operations. He will also oversee the company's asset/liability and investment, hedging and interest rate risk management activities.

In an interview, Mr. Kurland noted that much of his role remains the same as it had been as COO of Countrywide.

The direction of Countrywide will remain much as it has been, making an evolution to being a diversified financial services company, not just a mortgage lender.

But "at the same time, our commitment to mortgage banking" remains a "significant part" of the company's direction, he said. Its goal in mortgage banking is to grow to a 30% market share in the next five years.

Meanwhile, the other parts of CFC's operations are doing well. Mr. Kurland said the commercial bank is doing well and growing. Not only does the depository add an annuity stream of earnings for the company, it gives CHL portfolio capabilities.

The insurance operations (Balboa) continue to grow and LandSafe, which provides title, settlement and appraisal services, is working on increasing its market share. There is a value proposition at LandSafe that Countrywide Home Loans is looking to bring to its wholesale and correspondent partners and that is the high level of service that LandSafe brings to retail production, he said.

Another growing business for CFC is in the United Kingdom, Global Home Loans, its joint venture with Barclays.

Mr. Kurland is looking to add additional clients for Global's services and it is actively looking for opportunities to become a direct lender in the U.K.

As for Mr. Sambol, he will continue as executive managing director of mortgage banking and capital markets for CFC. In addition, he is now responsible for Countrywide's domestic and international mortgage lending and servicing activities.

The replacement of Grant Thornton as CFC's auditor has no relationship whatsoever to the accounting firm's troubles in Italy. Grant Thornton is the auditor for some 18 subsidiaries of Parmalat, including Bonlat Financing Corp., the unit under investigation for an alleged fraud. According to his bio on Countrywide's website, Mr. Kurland, a certified public accountant, had been employed by Grant Thornton prior to joining Countrywide in 1979.

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