PNC Bank Corp. agreed Friday to sell Sears Mortgage Corp.'s western production offices to a management group headed by Arthur Ringwald, vice president of Sears Mortgage.
The move comes only weeks after Pittsburgh-based PNC agreed to pay $328 million for Sears Mortgage, one of the country's largest mortgage banking operations. At the time, PNC announced that it would probably sell Sears' western branches.
The terms for Mr. Ringwald to acquire the branch network were not disclosed. The deal is contingent on the closing of the Sears-PNC agreement later this year.
The divestiture fits with PNC's strategy of remaining an eastern bank by stripping away most of Sears' West Coast assets. But Sears Savings Bank, the California-based thrift PNC would acquire with Sears Mortgage, would stay, in the PNC portfolio
Mr. Ringwald said Sears had no plans to replace him. He said regional managers would, report to Saiyid T. Naqvi, president of the mortgage company.
Reached at his home in the Chicago area, Mr. Ringwald said he was excited by the development, which "presented an opportunity to do something I've always wanted to: he an entrepreneur."
He would take control of about 30 branches in 12 states west of the Mississippi that last year produced $2.5 billion in mortgages for Sears Mortgage,
Initially, the new company, Which Mr. Ringwald has not named, would sell most of its loans to PNC Bank. Over the next two years he will seek to build up the business, he said.
"First, we'll nail down the production, then get a servicing portfolio, together," he said. "The ultimate goal is to put together a full-service mortgage bank."