First American Acquires Matrix Asset Management

The First American Corp. and Matrix Bancorp said last week that First American has acquired a 75% equity ownership interest in Matrix Asset Management in exchange for a combination of cash and notes totaling approximately $15 million.

First American said the transaction will be "immediately accretive" to its earnings.

Established in 1995, Matrix Asset Management is billed as the nation's second largest asset management outsource company. Matrix offers asset disposition and default management services on foreclosed properties to mortgage bankers, investment bankers and financial institutions across the United States.

"Asset management services are an important element of offering a complete default management solution," said Parker Kennedy, president and chief executive officer of First American.

"The demand for outsourced default management services is growing rapidly as large and middle-tier mortgage lenders are increasingly looking to streamline their operations and have complex services managed by experts. Matrix's strong reputation and client base offer tremendous growth opportunities for our default-related businesses, and will also help to drive additional business to our title and property valuation services." With approximately $320 million in assets under management, Matrix will maintain its central operations in Denver, First American said.

Kenneth Blevins, president of Matrix Asset Management, said the acquisition is "an excellent move for our customers and helps to position our company for continued growth.

"By joining with First American, we can deliver great value to our customers while offering them an expanded line of related products and services including First American's industry-leading product bundles."

Dennis Gilmore, executive vice president of First American, said that the addition of Matrix Asset Management gives First American the ability to provide clients with individual services or complete end-to-end solutions. He said Matrix's "solid and experienced team of professionals and central location make it ideal to support First American's default-related services and real estate-owned property management needs nationwide."

Matrix Bancorp is a unitary thrift holding company headquartered in Denver with subsidiaries conducting operations primarily in Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Matrix will retain a 25% interest in Matrix Asset Management. Matrix CEO Rick Schmitz said the company is working to strengthen shareholder value and streamline the company to focus on its core businesses.

The First American Corp. companies operate within six primary business segments: title insurance and services, specialty insurance, mortgage information, property information, credit information and screening information.

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