Pitney Bowes Inc. has put its Atlantic Mortgage and Investment subsidiary back on the block, this time using different investment bankers, industry sources say.
Countrywide Servicing Exchange, a unit of Countrywide Credit Industries, and Wasserstein Perella & Co., a prominent merger specialist, will seek a buyer for Atlantic, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla., the sources said.
It was unclear late last week what role, if any, Warburg Dillon Read LLC would play this time around. The UBS AG unit represented Pitney Bowes when it tried to sell Atlantic earlier this year.
Officials at Pitney Bowes, Wasserstein Perella, and Warburg Dillon Read did not return phone calls seeking comment. A Countrywide Servicing Exchange executive declined to comment.
The assignment would be a coup for the Countrywide unit, which brokers many servicing sales but rarely arranges acquisitions of whole mortgage companies.
It is even more rare to see Wasserstein involved in a mortgage company deal, even though the New York firm is a well-known mergers and acquisitions adviser.
Atlantic does little or no lending, but it services about $20 billion of loans, specializing in idiosyncratic mortgages that other companies avoid.
These include loans that have low balances, are well seasoned, have above-normal delinquencies, or have been bought by private investors rather than government-sponsored enterprises.
Pitney Bowes, a leading maker of postage meters, owns a financial services subsidiary, Pitney Bowes Credit Corp., that offers financing and leasing for its office and mailing equipment. It bought Atlantic Mortgage in 1992.
In the first quarter, Pitney Bowes put Atlantic up for sale, seeking to focus on its core businesses and rid itself of the risk that borrowers would pay off mortgages early.
Several companies, including the mortgage units of Fleet Financial Group, PNC Bank, and Bank United of Houston, were said to have considered buying Atlantic.
But Pitney Bowes was unable to find a price to its liking, and by May it had shelved its plans to sell, investment bankers said.
According to the latest filing by Pitney Bowes' finance unit with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company values Atlantic's servicing portfolio-its chief asset-at about $360 million.
The bids fell short of that, one source said. This was at the tail end of the biggest refinancing boom in history. Unexpected prepayments had forced several large servicers to write down their portfolios last year; a company that serviced loans but did not originate them was a hard sell.
"This was not a slam-dunk deal," said one investment banker, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"This was a tough deal to do in a difficult interest rate environment."
Since then, interest rates have risen, and so has the market value of servicing.
That may help Pitney Bowes get a better price for Atlantic this time around, servicing brokers suggested.