First Horizon Home Loan Corp., a subsidiary of Memphis-based First Tennessee National Corp., bought Equitrust Financial Corp. of Livonia, Mich., last week.
Terms were not disclosed. Gerald Baker, president of First Horizon, said in a statement, "Acquiring an established franchise with a quality management and sales team creates a tremendous opportunity for us in Michigan."
Mr. Baker said Equitrust "is a proven company, with a clear and targeted focus on residential mortgage lending and a culture similar to ours."
Equitrust has branches in Livonia and Grand Rapids. It makes conforming and nonconforming FHA and first and second mortgage loans. It funded more than $150 million of credits in 1999.
First Horizon Home Loan, formerly FT Mortgage Cos., has since the mid-1990s pursued a strategy of buying small mortgage companies with strong regional market shares. Until recently, it let the smaller companies keep their own names and operate with a great deal of independence.
Starting this year, however, in an effort to create a nationwide mortgage brand, the Dallas-based company began to unite its subsidiaries under the name First Horizon. The branding effort led the First Tennessee unit to part ways with another regional mortgage company, HomeBanc, which it bought in 1995. The Atlanta-based subsidiary had chafed at changing its name to First Horizon, citing the local marketing value of its own brand, so in late April First Tennessee sold it back to a group comprising HomeBanc's management and a private equity firm, for $57.5 million.
HomeBanc had accounted for 12% of First Horizon's production. Company officials said it would use the sale proceeds to buy other retail franchises and replace the lost volume.