First Am Moves Closer to Spinoff

The First American Corporation (FAF) on Monday morning unveiled a corporate realignment of its key outsourcing and information services business, as the title insurance conglomerate moved closer to spinning its non-title businesses off into a separate publicly-traded entity. As part of the reorganization, the company established two new business lines within its information and outsourcing segment: a valuations and property solutions line, and an outsourcing technology solutions line. “We see them as prototypes for how the new Information Solutions company will be structured when it eventually becomes a separate publicly traded company,” said Barry Sando, president of the Information and Outsourcing Solutions segment, where both new business lines reside. First American said in January that it would look to spin off its non-title businesses into a separate company, in an effort to better recognize the value of its real estate information services — company executives have said that woes in the company’s title operations are unduly penalizing other areas of its business. But the planned spinoff was shelved in Q2 amid deteriorating market conditions, and First Am has not yet said when it expects to be able to complete the planned spinoff. The new valuation and property solutions business line includes both First American eAppraiseIT and First American Residential Value View, as well as the company’s field services operations. “We are moving toward a single platform that will allow clients to automatically match the appropriate valuation product — full appraisal, desk- review, BPO or specialty automated valuation model (AVM) — to specific product risk, using cascading logic,” said Joni Pierce, chief operating officer of First American Residential Value View. The company’s outsourcing and technology solutions business line includes a full range of default-related services, including loss mitigation outsourcing and REO servicing, as well as offshoring services. “This past January, we announced plans to split First American into two separately listed public companies: the Information Solutions company and the Financial Services company,” said Frank McMahon, vice chairman of First American, who will become chief executive officer of the new Information Solutions company. “Although the timing of that plan has been delayed due to market turbulence, we are still aggressively working to integrate our product companies and transform our organization.” In other words, First Am is moving ahead with an internal reorganization as if the spinoff had taken place. The only question at this point is when the company will actually spin off the operations. Write to Paul Jackson at [email protected]. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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