For Wells Fargo, a key element of its $3.2 billion deal for First Security is CrossLand Mortgage.
"The best thing that ever happened to First Security was to be able to put CrossLand" into Wells' huge Norwest Mortgage Co. unit, said Susan L. Roth, an analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
Wells Fargo & Co. stepped in with an agreement to buy First Security Corp. for $3.2 billion of stock after the Salt Lake City banking company's sale to crosstown rival Zions Bancorp was rejected by Zions' shareholders.
Ms. Roth said Wells would pick up the benefit of CrossLand's loan-origination machine but not its cyclical problems. Because of its economies of scale, Norwest "does not go through great swings up and down," she said.
The deal for Salt Lake City-based CrossLand is expected to double Norwest's broker volume. Based on 1999 numbers, the transaction would push Norwest from No. 2 in servicing to the top spot and also would catapult it from No. 6 in wholesale originations to second place, just behind Countrywide Home Loans Inc.
CrossLand has $16.4 billion of servicing rights and originated almost $14 billion of mortgages last year. It has 127 branches in 28 states, and employs 1,900.
Diana P. Yates, an analyst at A.G. Edwards, said CrossLand would complement Norwest. "Wells Fargo has the expertise to handle the additional volume," she said, "and where Norwest has historically been retail, CrossLand will add on the wholesale side."
Norwest, which plans to change its name to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, effective Monday, was ranked sixth in broker-business volume in 1999, with $11.14 billion. CrossLand was seventh, with $9.91 billion. Norwest was ranked second in FHA/VA lending, with $15.34 billion; CrossLand, ninth, with $4.96 billion. CrossLand was the No. 1 FHA/VA lender in California, a Norwest spokesman said.
As with any such deal, downsizing issues are prominent, and the integration plan for the two mortgage companies is unclear. A Norwest official, despite saying the company is determined to maintain CrossLand as is, would not rule out any option.
"We are very excited about the acquisition. It's a great fit," said Cara Heiden, executive vice president of consumer lending sales at Norwest. "The transition teams will get together in the next few days to determine the combined structure and what makes most sense. The teams will determine the plan so that we can capture the huge opportunity that we both have."
Servicing integration promises to be smooth. The two companies' servicing platforms are compatible, several officials involved in the deal said. Norwest boasts six servicing platforms across the country, and CrossLand has one in Utah. Ms. Heiden said the transition team will decide whether to keep the Utah facility open based on "what's best to serve the customers and maintain the servicing portfolio."
Several analysts expressed confidence that overall the transition will run smoothly. "Wells Fargo, historically, fully integrates mortgage companies such as CrossLand into their framework," said Ms. Yates. "They'll leave the retail shops to serve the customer, but they will integrate back-end functions and servicing into Norwest."