Magazine article American Banker

C-Bass Entering Originations with Fieldstone Deal

Magazine article American Banker

C-Bass Entering Originations with Fieldstone Deal

Article excerpt

By agreeing to buy Fieldstone Investment Corp. for about $259 million, C-Bass LLC, a New York buyer and servicer of "scratch and dent" mortgages, is making its first foray into originations at a time when some subprime lenders are shutting down or declaring bankruptcy.

The deal was announced Friday, just three days after ResMae Mortgage Corp., a Brea, Calif., subprime lender, agreed to sell its assets -- but not the liability for repurchasing bad loans -- to Credit Suisse Group in a prepack aged Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Mark Krebs, the treasurer of Fieldstone's mortgage unit, said C-Bass will take on the troubled Columbia, Md., subprime lender's repurchase risk, because it is buying all the stock, not just assets.

C-Bass did not return calls Friday.

Though the price, $5.53 a share, is more than double Fieldstone's closing stock price Thursday, analysts said it is also well below book value. And if Fieldstone does not resolve a shareholder suit before the deal closes, C-Bass can cut the price by 4%.

C-Bass, whose name stands for Credit-Based Asset Servicing and Securitization, "is a bottom fisher with a history of picking companies up on the cheap and turning them around," said Matthew Howlett, an analyst at Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc. in New York.

Fieldstone's mortgage banking platform has been unprofitable for the last three quarters, Mr. Howlett said, but C-Bass has an opportunity to improve the performance of Fieldstone's $180 million to $185 million of residuals.

"Because Fieldstone was acquired, and not just certain assets, it improves the likelihood of more one-off transactions like this," he said. "Despite business turmoil, demand for subprime paper remains strong today, and this deal is a validation of that."

Matthew Roswell, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc., said Fieldstone's mortgages have deteriorated dramatically in the past few months. …

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