American Home Mortgage Holdings Inc. of New York has a deal to expand on the West Coast and build its Internet prowess by buying Marina Mortgage Co. of Irvine, Calif.

In the deal, announced last week, American Home Mortgage is to pay 753,420 shares of its common stock and $2.5 million of cash to Marina shareholders over five years. On the basis of American Home's share price Monday, the deal would be worth $7.3 million.

The two companies originated about $1.9 billion of mortgages last year.

Marina operates 14 offices in California and Arizona. A spokesman for American Home said buying Marina would enlarge his company's limited West Coast presence.

Michael Strauss, American's chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said in a statement, "We believe the merger with Marina Mortgage is an important opportunity for our company."

He said Marina's Internet call center would help American's Web site, www.mortgageselect.com, better serve its customers.

John Johnston, Marina's chief executive officer, called American Home "a perfect partner."

Inc. magazine listed Marina on its 1999 roster of the country's fastest-growing privately held companies.

- Robert Julavits

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