Republic First Bancorp announced May 1 the closing of a joint venture with Fidelity Bond and Mortgage Co. and Phoenix Mortgage Co. that will provide full-service mortgage banking services to the bank's business region and beyond.

The $457 million-asset banking company bought 47% of Fidelity Bond for approximately $1.6 million cash. Phoenix acquired 33% of Fidelity Bond in a stock swap.

Under the joint venture agreement, Fidelity Bond and Phoenix merged their respective operations, with the owners of Fidelity Bond retaining a 20% interest in the company. Donald L. Salmon, president of Phoenix Mortgage, will assume the position of president and chief executive officer of the combined company.

Republic First already makes mortgage loans through other joint ventures, a spokeswoman for the bank said, but origination volume was not available.

Fidelity Bond is a licensed mortgage banker in 48 states. The company, which has a $63 million servicing portfolio, has been doing business in the Philadelphia marketplace for 57 years. Phoenix Mortgage, which has operated in the Philadelphia area for eight years, originates more than $200 million of loans annually.

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