Some mortgage companies chose New York attractions such as the Tavern on the Green restaurant and the Copacabana nightclub for social functions at the Mortgage Bankers Association of America's annual conference this week. Countrywide Credit Industries was all business in its choice.
Chairman David S. Loeb, vice chairman Angelo R. Mozilo, and president Stanford L. Kurland were at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday to ring the closing bell, marking Countrywide's 12th anniversary on the Big Board.
And after the bell Mr. Mozilo had some fighting words for the large bank-owned mortgage lenders, who have been building market share on his turf.
"The banks all run in a herd mentality. Now they're all buying discount brokerages," he said.
Mr. Mozilo made it clear that Countrywide is not content with its No. 2 ranking in mortgage originations, and that he aims to get back on top. "Clearly we will return to the dominant position we were before a competitor bought another player and became No. 1," he said.
Mr. Mozilo was referring to Norwest Mortgage, which became the nation's largest servicer last year after it bought Prudential Home Mortgage.
How will the company overtake Norwest?
On the originations side, Mr. Kurland said Countrywide plans to increase branches by about 15% annually.
Several of the new outlets will be for Countrywide's Full Spectrum retail subprime division.
Mr. Mozilo also spoke about Countrywide's international plans. Countrywide announced at last month's MBA International Conference in Vancouver that it had formed a global markets division.
At that time, the company did not mention any specific markets that it might target. But Mr. Mozilo spoke Monday about Western Europe.
He said the housing market there is about as large as the United States. But costs to originate and service loans are drastically different. Mr. Mozilo said in Ireland, for example, the average cost of servicing a loan is $200. Countrywide's average is about $52.
"What we can bring to the table is efficiency and technology," Mr. Mozilo said.