MERS owner to acquire Simplifile as mortgage eNote usage grows

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Intercontinental Exchange's proposed acquisition of Simplifile will enhance its MERS unit's growing presence in handling electronic notes.

"Simplifile understood this trend early, uniquely solving for the critical aspect of submitting required documents into the public record in a seamless, auditable and transparent method," Chris McEntee, president of ICE Mortgage Services, said in a press release. "By connecting lenders, settlement agents and counties through a robust network, Simplifile will enhance ICE's efforts to further streamline a legacy process ripe for innovation."

Simplifile's technology links lenders, settlement service providers and county recording offices. There are 3,594 mortgage recording jurisdictions in the nation and Simplifile is connected with 1,922 counties that cover 80% of the U.S. population.

Idaho is the 11th state (and the third in 2019) where all of its counties are on Simplifile, the company announced. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon are the others.

ICE will pay $335 million to acquire Simplifile with the deal expected to close in the third quarter. Simplifile will continue to operate under that name and maintain its headquarters in Provo, Utah; it has 200 employees.

ICE acquired full control of MERS last October. The holding company is also the owner of the New York Stock Exchange.

In the first quarter, MERS added more e-notes to its registry than it did for all of 2018.

In the first quarter, ICE's fixed-income and credit reporting business, which includes ICE Mortgage Services, had net revenue of $87 million, up 54% from $56 million in the first quarter of 2018. That was the largest year-over-year percentage gain of the businesses in the trading and clearing segment.

But on a company-wide basis, mortgage made up less than 2% of ICE's first-quarter revenue of $1.3 billion.

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