Norwest Mortgage says it has broken the $200 billion mark for servicing, becoming the first home lender to amass such a huge portfolio.

The Des Moines unit of Norwest Corp. achieved the milestone when stronger-than-expected originations for June were added to an existing cache that includes loans from recently acquired Prudential Home Mortgage. Norwest also subservices $35.7 billion of nonconforming loans, held by Prudential's parent, and is counting them in the $200 billion figure.

Norwest's closest competitors service between $100 billion and about $150 billion of loans, not including subservicing. Rankings compiled by American Banker do not count subservicing, but Norwest appears to be the No. 1 servicer in either case.

Countrywide Credit Industries, Pasadena, Calif., is second with about $140 billion, while Chase Manhattan Mortgage is third with about $130 billion. Others with more than $100 billion are GE Capital Mortgage Services, Raleigh, N.C., and Fleet Mortgage Group, Columbia, S.C.

The volume that Norwest achieved does not just supply bragging rights, one industry observer said. "If you have $200 billion in servicing, you have efficiencies of scale and synergisms that others do not," said Allen Hardester, a mortgage consultant based in Columbia, Md.

The servicing, tied to loans for two million people, "also represents a tremendous marketing tool" for Norwest's banking services, Mr. Hardester said.

To continue building its portfolio and absorbing the Prudential acquisition, Norwest has hired some key personnel. Most recently the company brought aboard a former top gun at Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp.

Geoffrey Dreyer was president of Troy & Nichols, a Chase acquisition, and stayed on to serve as chief operating officer of Chase Mortgage's servicing division.

Mr. Dreyer left Chase on March 31, the day the company completed its merger with Chemical Banking Corp.

At Norwest, Mr. Dreyer fills the new position of executive vice president for loan production administration. Among other responsibilities, Mr. Dreyer will oversee an effort to bring automated underwriting to retail operations.

"I feel good about this," Mr. Dreyer said of his new position. "Norwest has a lot of interesting possibilities because of all the things it's doing.

Industry analysts applauded the hiring, saying it will take a deep bench for Norwest to keep on top of its sprawling operation.

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