With final bids for Prudential Insurance Company of America's home mortgage unit due today, the market is rife with speculation about who will buy what part of the largest home mortgage company ever put on the auction block.
According to sources close to the deal, the unit is likely to be broken up and sold in pieces. The company is so diverse, many in the industry say, that it would be difficult for one buyer to successfully integrate every unit into an existing company.
There have been reports that separate bids have been made for each of the unit's individual companies. Initially, Prudential wanted to sell the entire company to one buyer, and stated in the bid letter that a cash transaction was preferred.
Industry experts estimate the sale price at about $1 billion for Residential Services Corporation of America, as the entire Clayton, Mo.- based company is known.
While many parties have received the book outlining the offering, only a few are said to be seriously interested in the unit or its parts.
Bank of Boston has performed due diligence on the unit with a group of investors, in what industry insiders call an unconventionally structured consortium that includes Thomas Lee & Co., a Boston-based venture capital firm.
G.E. Capital Mortgage Services, Raleigh, N.C., hired Bear, Stearns & Co. as investment advisers to look at Prudential, and Norwest Mortgage and PHH US Mortgage Corp. have also performed due diligence on the unit.
Three pieces of Prudential's mortgage unit are for sale. The largest unit of RSCA is Prudential Home Mortgage, which originates and services home loans and issues mortgage-backed securities.
Pru Home originated $14 billion of home loans and serviced $75.6 billion as of the end of 1994.
Another separate company that is part of the sale, Lenders Service Inc., is a network of independent real estate appraisers. LSI also provides title searches, title insurance, and loan closing services.
Residential Information Services LP is the former Lomas unit that Prudential purchased last year. It provides computer support to home loan servicers.
The Prudential unit, headed by Marvin Moskowitz, was put up for sale in March as part of an effort by the parent company to bolster its capital.
Some in the industry have said a key concern of potential buyers of the servicing portfolio could be the large presence of jumbo loans - those over the $203,150 cap on loans bought by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Jumbos are said to be more difficult to hedge because it is hard to judge how quickly they will prepay.
GE is known as an aggressive purchaser of servicing, reportedly with a goal of servicing a $200 billion portfolio. If GE purchased Pru's entire servicing portfolio, it would become No. 1 in the nation in servicing, jumping ahead of the new Chase.
This is also true of Norwest Corp., Minneapolis, another bidder for the package and an aggressive accumulator of servicing rights that ranks No. 5.
PHH, a relatively small home-mortgage originator in Mount Laurel, N.J., that specializes in telemarketing and affinity lending, has confirmed that it is interested in the originations aspect of Pru, which is also a big affinity lender.
Just last week, Chicago Title and Trust Co. performed due diligence on LSI, according to sources close to the deal. Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., Milwaukee, is also said to be interested in LSI.