Magazine article American Banker

Executive Who Sold His Firm Gets Used to Sitting in the Back Seat

Magazine article American Banker

Executive Who Sold His Firm Gets Used to Sitting in the Back Seat

Article excerpt

Mortgage company mergers bring out the best - and the worst - in managers who participate in the deals, said a chief executive who speaks from experience.

Both sides will insist they have nothing but a business interest in the transaction, said Robert E. Roth, president of Spectrum Home Mortgage, a unit of Marine Midland Bank.

But in reality "everything is personal," said Mr. Roth, whose company was bought last year by the Buffalo bank.

Mr. Roth, who stayed as president of the mortgage unit following the buyout, said unbusinesslike comments made in the heat of negotiations can come back to haunt managers.

"You might say, 'Hey, you don't like my servicing operation - you're nuts,'" said Mr. Roth. "He'll only remember you said, 'You're nuts.'" And, to add insult to injury, "He could end up being your new boss," Mr. Roth said.

The mortgage banker survived whatever verbal blunders he may have committed while selling his Buffalo mortgage company to Marine Midland last year.

In addition to keeping Mr. Roth as president of the mortgage unit, Marine Midland named him a senior vice president of the bank.

During a session at the annual convention of the Mortgage Banker's Association of America, Mr. Roth talked about the human side of a mortgage company sale.

In speaking publicly about the experience, he showed a rare candor. Most managers affected by mergers have remained tight- lipped for fear of slighting their new boss or violating confidentiality clauses in severance packages.

Mr. Roth, who said he signed a five-year contract with Marine Midland after the buyout, believes dramatic adjustments are necessary to survive at a larger organization.

As a private company's owner or top executive, "You can jump up and down and say, make this happen," Mr. Roth said.

But once a sale to a large organization is complete, the manager must focus on getting along with the new regime. …

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