Magazine article American Banker

Nat'l Commerce Shifts Atlanta Push to High Gear

Magazine article American Banker

Nat'l Commerce Shifts Atlanta Push to High Gear

Article excerpt

National Commerce Financial Corp. will double its mortgage business and speed its Atlanta expansion by acquiring BancMortgage Financial Corp.

Memphis-based National Commerce, which has assets of $21 billion, began an ambitious expansion in the Atlanta market in April. Its deal to buy BancMortgage Financial, announced Wednesday, will give it a mortgage originator and wholesaler that has its headquarters in the city and operates in Georgia and Virginia.

BancMortgage is a division of Habersham Bancorp, a $550 million-asset community bank in Cornelia, Ga. Besides originating mortgages through its own offices, it sells through third-party mortgage brokers and operates a construction lending division focusing on residential development in Atlanta.

National Commerce said it expects to have 60 branches open or under development in the Atlanta area by the end of 2003, including 30 in Kroger Co. grocery stores and eight in Wal-Mart stores. (The BancMortgage deal is expected to be completed this year. The price was not disclosed.)

National Commerce said that buying the mortgage outfit would add to its own earnings in the first year of operations. It noted that BancMortgage originated $1.4 billion of mortgages in 2001, equaling what National Commerce did across its entire Southeast territory last year.

BancMortgage was founded in 1995 and has grown rapidly. Its loan volume has grown 43% a year compounded, double the national average. In the third quarter it recorded $448 million of new loans.

William R. Reed Jr., National Commerce's chief operating officer, said in an interview Wednesday, "This expands us into Atlanta in a way equal to or actually better than most of our footprint, in terms of offering our retail customer base the opportunity for home mortgages or secondary mortgages."

Jefferson Harralson, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. …

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