Arthur D. Ringwald, who took Bank of America's mortgage unit from a regional shop in San Francisco to a national powerhouse before the bank merged with NationsBank, has left the company to run a technology firm.

Mr. Ringwald, 54, took the helm this month at Ellie Mae Inc., a Dublin, Calif., venture focused on customizing sites for mortgage brokers.

He had been head of retail production at Bank of America. The merged company, which retained the Bank of America name but moved its headquarters to Charlotte, N.C., was the fourth-largest originator last year, with $63 billion, according to National Mortgage News, a sister publication of American Banker.

Ellie Mae is a shortening of Electronic Mortgage Affiliates. The two-year-old company plans in mid-April to begin operating an online "business center" that brokers could use to communicate electronically with lenders and providers of ancillary services such as title insurance and appraisals.

"We're trying to become an Internet conduit that connects mortgage brokers to lenders and vendors," Mr. Ringwald said in an interview Tuesday.

A consortium of investors, consisting mostly of venture capital firms and individuals but including GreenPoint Financial Corp. of New York, owns Ellie Mae. Noting that GreenPoint holds less than 2%, Mr. Ringwald stressed that "no lender controls us at all."

As president and chief executive officer, Mr. Ringwald reports to Sig Anderman, Ellie Mae's chairman and founder.

Mr. Ringwald joined Bank-America Corp. in 1993, in charge of its residential lending division. On his watch, BankAmerica acquired United Mortgage Corp. of Minneapolis, Arbor National Mortgage of Westbury, N.Y., and the Richmond, Va., servicing platform of Margaretten Financial Corp.

BankAmerica merged with NationsBank in mid-1998, and Mr. Ringwald was relegated to head of retail production at the combined companies' mortgage unit. He initially reported to Andrew D. Woodward, president of the new Bank of America Mortgage, who had been in charge of NationsBank's mortgage unit.

In December, there was an executive reshuffling at Bank of America Mortgage. Mr. Woodward was promoted to chairman. Danny Hellams, also from Nationsbank, took the job of president, and from then on Mr. Ringwald reported to Mr. Hellams.

Before BankAmerica, Mr. Ringwald spent four years as head of production at Sears Mortgage. He helped to build it into one of the country's top retail originators.

In 1993, Sears agreed to sell its mortgage company to PNC Bank Corp. A group of investors led by Mr. Ringwald attempted to buy Sears Mortgage's western branches, but ultimately PNC decided to keep those offices.

Mr. Ringwald has also held top production posts with Valley National Mortgage Co., Phoenix, Anchor Mortgage Services, Wayne, N.J., and Margaretten Financial Corp., Perth Amboy, N.J.

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