Firm's Evolution Underscores Shift in Market Landscape
Last June, we covered the start-up of Agire Mortgage Corp., a mortgage lender launched by industry heavy-hitters, including the former COO of New Century Mortgage Robin Cook-Auerbach, as well as former execs from GMAC-RFC and Countrywide. The company said at the time that it wanted to make a push into third-party originations via a strong technology backbone. Getting into the TPO (third-party origination) business in June 2007? Good luck with that. Launching a new mortgage banking operation last June might have proven to be a case of very bad timing, as we all know that the market worsened considerably from that point forward. But Cook-Auerbach and her team haven't folded; instead, the firm has launched a consulting and advisory service that now comprises a majority of the firm's business -- enough to justify an expansion and branding effort. In a press statement Monday, Agire said it was re-branding its advisory services platform to Edge Mortgage Advisory Corporation, or EdgeMAC. The new subsidiary provides portfolio exit strategy analysis and recommendations, due diligence services and portfolio review, as well loss mitigation consulting. We're now seeing new private companies choosing to re-opt into the Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) rubric, a common trend back when the GSEs last were dominant in the market (think ResMae, IndyMac). In addition to EdgeMAC, we now also have distressed debt specialist Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company, LLC, or PennyMac. The expansion comes as the company added to its board of directors. Agire said it had added Ron D'Vari, CEO of NewOak Capital, as chairman of the board; the company did not provide further details, but sources told HW that NewOak had invested significant dollars into the Agire operation. D'Vari also presently serves on the advisory boards of the American Securitization Forum and the Fixed-Income Forum. Previously, he was a managing director at BlackRock, Inc. (BLK), where he headed the firm's structured finance activities. Agire's Cook-Auerbach said that the full re-branding of the company's advisory and solutions group as EdgeMAC will occur in the next few months. Fore more information, visit http://www.agiremortgage.com. Disclosure: The author was long FRE and held no positions in FNM when this story was published; other indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.