UWM’s IPO is now scheduled for January

Here's what UWM employees will get out of the public debut

United Wholesale Mortgage’s (UWM) much-anticipated Wall Street debut is expected to take place on Jan. 22, 2021, the company told HousingWire late Thursday.

UWM, the nation’s second-largest mortgage originator by volume, is going public through a merger with a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company headed by businessman Alec Gores.

The merger, announced in September, could value the lender at $16.1 billion once trading begins on the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 22 under the ticker symbol “UWMC.” It was originally slated for the fourth quarter, but sources said it was pushed back due to challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gores’ SPAC – known as Gores Holdings IV – raised $425 million in cash earlier this year, and then added another $500 million in private investments.

The deal means that the Ishbia family will control 94% of the merged company, turning the clan into billionaires overnight and a number of employees into millionaires.

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UWM employees were issued a minimum of $1,000 in company stock, with individual amounts based on tenure, the company said. In all, the lender has offered a total of $35 million in employee-owned shares to the 7,300 workers. UWM has also pledged $25 million in bonuses and promoted a series of raffles, car leases, groceries and free trips to workers.

The lender, led by 40-year-old President and CEO Mat Ishbia, is by far the biggest player in the wholesale channel. Like other lenders, UWM has posted record profits amid a low-rate environment that has driven a huge volume of refinancings through its broker clients.

The company originated $54.2 billion in closed loans during the third quarter, an 81% increase from the $29.9 billion it originated in the third quarter of 2019 (loan volume was up 31.8% from the second quarter of 2020). Through the first three quarters, UWM closed nearly $128 billion in production, eclipsing the $108 billion it originated throughout all of 2019. Net income totaled $1.45 billion in the third quarter, up from $198 million during the same period in 2019. The gain-on-sale margin also inched up to a record 3.18%; a year ago it was 1.29%. UWM also raised $800 million in a debt offering in November, creating even more liquidity.

Only Rocket Mortgage, founded by Dan Gilbert, swings a bigger stick than UWM in the mortgage space. Rocket was the first to go public, raising $1.8 billion in a traditional IPO over the summer. As of Friday afternoon, Rocket’s stock was trading at $21.67. Rocket has a market cap of over $42 billion, though investors haven’t quite yet embraced the company, which is highly profitable.

UWM, which only operates in the broker channel, has offered a host of ultra-low-rate mortgage products to entice mortgage brokers who are awash in customers looking to clip 100 points or more on their existing mortgages. It also expects to introduce a jumbo product in the first quarter of 2021.

Though the company is seen as a powerful champion of mortgage brokers, it was recently hit with a lawsuit by several of its own former clients. Three brokers in California this month filed a suit that seeks class-action status, alleging that UWM retroactively changed the commission structure on mortgages that were quickly paid off by borrowers.

Industry sources said smaller rivals LoanDepot and Caliber Home Loans are both still considering public debuts next year after false starts. Blackstone Group’s lender-and-servicer Finance of America expects to IPO in 2021 via a SPAC.

James Kleimann is the Mortgage Editor of HousingWire. You can reach him at [email protected].

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