General Motors Acceptance Corp. last week continued its efforts to build up its lending presence with a deal to buy Mellon Bank Corp.'s $14 billion commercial mortgage portfolio.
GMAC's commercial mortgage unit would have a $70 billion portfolio after the purchase, widening its lead over Midland Loan Services Inc., with $41.2 billion at yearend, and Amresco Inc., with $40.9 billion.
The deal is the fourth announced this year by the General Motors Corp. unit.
"Our charge has always been to help General Motors sell more cars and trucks," said James Kobus, a GMAC spokesman. "But our vision recently is to be the best brand in financial services, which is a much broader-spectrum goal."
With $289 billion of managed receivables in its auto and home lending units alone, and 24,000 employees worldwide, GMAC dwarfs most banks. The deals are indicative of its "full spectrum" approach.
On Feb. 2, GMAC said it would buy Stearns & Yerrall Inc. Realtors of Springfield, Mass. On March 2, GMAC said it would buy American Financial Consultants of White Plains, N.Y., and Triad Financial of Minneapolis, two subprime credit card servicers. And it said March 22 that it would buy Di- Tech Funding, an Irvine, Calif.-based lender.
The company also closed a $38 billion mortgage servicing deal this year.
"The auto group is a very mature market," Mr. Kobus said. "To continue growth, you have to diversify."
GMAC will definitely be making more acquisitions, he said.
Terms of the latest deal were not disclosed, but commercial mortgage bankers estimated that GMAC agreed to pay less than $100 million for the Mellon portfolio. Mellon had doubled the size of its portfolio in 1996 with a purchase of loans from Bankers Trust.
Since GMAC Commercial Mortgage was founded in 1994, it has grown rapidly through a series of acquisitions. The unit originated $9.8 billion in 1998 and securitized $2.5 billion.
Last year Lehman Brothers was the largest commercial loan securitizer, with $12.2 billion, according to Commercial Mortgage Alert, a newsletter.
Consolidation has been rapid in the commercial mortgage arena, said Tim Mazzetti, senior vice president at Midland Loan Services Inc., a subsidiary of PNC Bank.
Technology requirements have increased significantly since commercial mortgage originators began securitizing loans, Mr. Mazzetti said, and investors in these securities are demanding more information.
Market sources said that Mellon and GMAC had hammered out a deal in September for the commercial loan portfolio, but Mellon unexpectedly took the unit off the market.
A Mellon spokesman said autumn was a "very volatile period for all sorts of markets" and the bank waited until the volatility "died down" before selling the portfolio.
Other commercial bankers have said Mellon was not paying close attention to the portfolio and it was experiencing high delinquencies.
Martin G. McGuinn, Mellon's chief executive, said in a written statement announcing the deal, "GMAC Commercial Mortgage has the necessary scale in this industry to make significant investments in technology and work closely with us to insure a smooth and seamless transaction."
The Mellon spokesman would not comment on the portfolio's quality.
Mellon said in January that it would exit the commercial and residential mortgage businesses and sell off its credit card unit. Citigroup purchased Mellon's $1.9 billion credit card portfolio in March, and the residential unit remains up for sale.
A GMAC Commercial Mortgage spokesman said executives were not available to comment.