Barclays Completes EquiFirst Acquisition; Purchase Price Plummets on Subprime Woes

Barclays Bank PLC said Monday that it has completed the purchase of EquiFirst Corporation, the non-prime mortgage origination business of Regions Financial Corporation. The $76 million purchase price paid by Barclays was a mere 33 percent of the $225 million originally announced by the company on January 19. Neither EquiFirst nor Barclays officials were available to comment after HW went to publish on Monday, but industry sources pointed to rough industry conditions as the driver in the deal’s steep drop in value. EquiFirst is the nation’s 12th largest non-prime wholesale mortgage originator, and originates its loans through over 9,000 brokers in 47 states. The company represents Barclays second recent acquisition in mortgage banking. The bank also purchased HomEq’s servicing platform from Wachovia for $469 million back in November 2006.

The price is subject to a final adjustment of book value, which is expected to be finalized during the second quarter, although the company said it does not expect such an adjustment to be made. Barclays Capital currently has an active wholesale loan mortgage business in the US which involves the purchase and securitization of mortgages on a principal basis. Company officials said that all the loans originated by EquiFirst are expected to be securitized or sold on an ongoing basis after an average hold period of approximately 2 to 3 months.

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