J.I. Kislak Inc. may be putting its mortgage business on the block.
The Miami Lakes, Fla., company announced it had hired UBS Securities Inc., New York, as a financial adviser to "assist management in the proper steps to take in the best long-term interest of the company and its shareholders."
Brenda White, a mortgage banking specialist in the mergers and acquisitions department at UBS, will be in charge of the Kislak assignment. Ms. White had been a managing director at Salomon Brothers and joined UBS just a few weeks ago.
The potential deal is yet another sign that consolidation in the mortgage industry is continuing apace. One megadeal is pending: Prudential has announced its intention to exit the mortgage business and sell its $75 billion servicing portfolio. And many midsize deals, especially for servicing portfolios, are said to be in the works.
If Kislak does decide to leave the mortgage business, it would be a marked change in the company's ambitions. It has been eager to expand and to improve its access to the capital markets. But one observer said Kislak "simply doesn't have the financial resources to bid against the big companies" for mortgage assets and is clearly a seller rather than a buyer.
A Kislak spokesman said the mortgage company had made a significant contribution to Kislak's profits in recent quarters, a time when other mortgage units have been struggling.
Kislak had sought to merge with Farragut Mortgage more than a year ago, a move that would have expanded its originations and servicing. It would also have provided a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, since Farragut was listed.
But the deal fell through when Farragut's value declined sharply because of a wave of prepayments in its servicing portfolio.
Earlier, it had hired Willard Soper to head its mortgage company. He had been president of Shawmut Mortgage. But he resigned to become president of Midcoast Mortgage, Melville, N.Y., at about the same time the Farragut deal fell through.