Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rumors Swirl over Alltel's Information Services Unit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rumors Swirl over Alltel's Information Services Unit

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Basch, Times-Union business writer

While Alltel Corp. will not comment on ongoing rumors that it may sell its information services unit -- which includes its Jacksonville mortgage processing division -- two analysts have speculated in the last couple of weeks that the business could be sold.

Alltel Information Services Inc. provides information processing services for the financial services and telecommunications industries. A large part of that operation is the mortgage processing business which employs about 1,000 people in Jacksonville and is responsible for processing about half the mortgage loans made in the United States.

But analysts are speculating that Alltel could sell that business to focus on its core telephone service business.

"We believe Information Services remains an attractive candidate for divestiture, given the high level of consolidation activity within the electronic processing space," said a report by Wachovia Securities analyst Jennifer M. Fritzsche.

And in the "Outlook 2003" issue of National Mortgage News, Jeff Lebowitz, president of mortgage technology consulting firm Mortech LLC, also speculated that Alltel will sell the information services unit. He predicted Fiserv Inc., a major provider of data processing systems for the financial industry, would be the buyer.

Lebowitz said last week that he was just gazing into his crystal ball and had no factual basis for speculating on that. Fritzsche, who said in her report that it would take a "global player" to buy a business that large, said she could not comment.

Alltel spokesman Andrew Moreau at the company's corporate headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., acknowledged that rumors of a sale have been around for a while, but he said the company does not comment on rumors and speculation.

2 more year-enders

Two local companies were left out of our Jan. …

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