PHH to Shutter N.Y. Office, Lay Off 80

PHH Corp. plans to close a Buffalo, N.Y.-area office next year, which will result in the layoff of 80 employees, extending the staff reductions already taken in 2016.

The 80 employees who will be laid off were notified verbally in October and received formal warning this week, PHH spokesman Dico Akseraylian said. The round of layoffs is scheduled to begin within 14 days of March 31, 2017, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed Thursday.

Akseraylian declined to comment on the impact the layoffs and closure would have on future earnings.

The layoffs come as PHH sets to end operations at its Williamsville, N.Y., facility, which handled both servicing and originations for the company, in the second half of 2017.

The closure stems largely from the August announcement that the company would lose nearly a third of its subservicing portfolio after HSBC Bank agreed to sell the mortgage servicing rights on 139,000 loans, Akseraylian said.

The company warned in the announcement that some of the facility's employees would be affected. At the time, the facility had around 300 employees.

Another factor influencing the closure was the relocation of the company's originations operations to a facility in Jacksonville, Fla., following the end of its relationship with Merrill Lynch that precipitated its exit from the private-label mortgage origination business.

This round of layoffs follows another that was announced in September affecting 91 employees. Those layoffs are set to finalize Dec. 31. PHH expects that further staff reductions will follow in the first half of 2017 affecting the facility's remaining employees, though Akseraylian said some will likely remain on with the company as telecommuters after the office closes.

Affected employees will receive severance and career transition assistance.

"We have worked with local companies in Williamsville that are in need of employees to set up job fairs," Akseraylian said. "We did that for the 91 announced in September, and we'll continue to do that. We are very focused on trying to get impacted employees as much help as we can."

He also noted that the company gave the latest group of affected employees beyond the 90 days' advance notice that's required.

"We decided to give them as much notice as we could," Akseraylian said.

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