ARCS on the Auction Block?

ARCS Commercial Mortgage, Calabasas, Calif., one of the nation's largest commercial servicers, is on the auction block, investment banking sources told Mortgage Servicing News.

A spokesman for ARCS said the company has hired an investment banker to help it "sift through offers we've received."

The spokesman added, "We've been contacted by any number of people over the years about buying us." He referred additional questions to ARCS Commercial chief executive and chairman Howard Levine. As MSN went to press, Mr. Levine had not responded.

At midyear, ARCS serviced $12.2 billion in loans, ranking ninth nationwide, according to the Quarterly Data Report. An investment banker and two commercial executives who work for competing lenders said they have been contacted in regard to ARCS, which is privately held.

ARCS is the largest Fannie Mae "DUS" lender in the U.S. DUS is a delegated underwriting program where mortgage banking firms sell apartment loans to the government-sponsored enterprise.

One growing concern for Fannie Mae is "counterparty" risk, which dictates how much capital Fannie's business partners must hold. Commercial executives say non-depository DUS lenders are being forced to raise additional funds to compete against commercial banks and thrifts that are becoming more aggressive in the multifamily market. "Counterparty risk concerns could force some of these 'mom and pop' shops to sell out," said one West Coast-based commercial mortgage executive.

A few weeks ago Deutsche Bank, New York, bought Berkshire Mortgage Finance, Boston, another top-ranked Fannie DUS lender. A non-depository, Berkshire was founded back in 1969 by brothers Douglas and George Krupp.

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