Citigroup has signed a deal that gives it an "option" to buy subprime wholesale giant Argent Mortgage, Orange, Calif., and the $65 billion servicing platform of its sister company, Ameriquest Mortgage.Both units are owned by ACC Capital Holdings, a company controlled by mortgage industry veteran Roland Arnall, who is currently serving as U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands. In a statement issued after the market closed Wednesday, ACC revealed that Citigroup not only has an option to buy Argent and the receivables, but is providing "additional working capital" to ACC's subprime units, becoming their primary warehouse lender. The option to buy does not include the retail division of Ameriquest and is subject to "certain requirements, including achieving business milestones and satisfaction of regulatory filings and approvals." Among subprime lenders, Citigroup ranks 10th and Ameriquest/Argent 11th, according to the fourth-quarter edition of the Quarterly Data Report, a National Mortgage News publication.

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