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NYSE parent company ICE acquires MERS

ICE buys remaining stake in mortgage registry

Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange, is now also the parent company of MERSCORP Holdings, as the companies announced Friday that ICE has acquired all of MERS.

The deal comes just over two years after ICE acquired a majority stake in MERSCORP, the owner of Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems and operator of the MERS System, a national electronic registry that tracks the changes in servicing rights and beneficial ownership interests in U.S.-based mortgages.

Now, ICE owns all of MERS after acquiring the remaining stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.

According to ICE, the price and the terms of the deal will not be “material” to the company’s earnings or have an impact on capital return plans.

When ICE first began buying up pieces of MERS, the companies said that MERS would be moving its technological infrastructure to ICE’s systems, which are also used by the NYSE.

According to the companies, that transition took place earlier this month, with ICE moving the MERS System infrastructure to the ICE Mahwah data center. The companies say that this transition was an “integral requirement” of completing the full and final acquisition.

ICE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher believes the deal will allow ICE and MERS to be on the forefront of the digital mortgage revolution.

“As the U.S. mortgage finance industry transitions from a paper-based process to more digital mortgages and electronic notes, MERS is uniquely positioned to provide a seamless process that will bring greater efficiencies to consumers, lenders and institutional investors,” Sprecher said.

“ICE has a well-established track record of transitioning traditional analog businesses to digital marketplaces, and MERS represents another important chapter in that record,” Specher added. “We’re excited to work with MERS as it embarks on their next stage of development.”

MERS has long been at the center of the mortgage business’ move toward digitization, which has also placed the company at the center of a good deal of controversy.

Bill Beckmann, the CEO of MERSCORP, told HousingWire Magazine in 2015 that the company’s position in the business leads to it being in the crosshairs of some borrowers and mortgage business observers.

“The big surprise when I got on board was just how misunderstood our role is. MERS is a small, but important, part of the mortgage infrastructure and we were being portrayed by some as the cause of the financial crisis, as clouding titles to homes in the U.S., or being some secretive arm of the banks — in some cases the media and blogs fueled this perception,” Beckmann told HousingWire Magazine.

“But what we do is increase efficiency, reduce paperwork and reduce the cost of originating mortgages,” Beckmann added. “So for such a small company to garner a large amount of attention, that was not something I was expecting.”

The company’s legal standing in the mortgage process was repeatedly upheld in federal courts. And now, the company has ICE’s backing as it moves into the future.

“ICE’s global infrastructure and experience in making markets more transparent and efficient will enhance the access, scalability and effectiveness of MERS for its more than 5,000 member institutions,” Beckmann said. “This is a natural evolution for our business and will provide benefits for participants throughout the industry.”

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