Ocwen Stays Alive and Well with More ABS on Tap


Despite rumors and some reports to the contrary, Ocwen Financial Corp. is very much alive in all its businesses, with plans for an active calendar of new financings including at least four more securitizations over the balance of 1999, according to management.

Ocwen's vice president of corporate communications Richard Hurwitz said that the published reports it was exiting the subprime origination business are "totally incorrect." He said these are just rumors and the company "categorically denies" them.

According to Hurwitz, the company is not undertaking any fundamental changes in its business, either domestic or foreign. "We continue to originate both domestic and United Kingdom subprime loans," he added.

At the same time, Hurwitz said he could not comment specifically on a report the company is looking to sell its U.K. business because it is now in "a quiet period" ahead of the release of its second quarter financials. Such an action would qualify as a material event that it may not discuss. However, he noted that the U.K. units represent material investments for Ocwen and he saw no reason why those investments would end.

Hurwitz said the company is expected to undertake three or four financings in the third quarter and three to five more in the fourth quarter. These would comprise a mix of securitizations and conventional financings, with at least two in each quarter slated to be ABS deals.

Traditionally, Ocwen's domestic securitizations have been for about $125 million to $150 million each, while the U.K. sales are substantially larger.

Hurwitz said he expects those transactions that are coming in the second half to be of comparable size, with those scheduled for the fourth quarter having the potential to be even larger.

As has been the case in the past, the securitizations will be structured as fixed-rate transactions. Hurwitz would not identify the underwiters for upcoming issues, but noted the company has used several investment banks for recent offerings, including Bear, Stearns & Co., Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Discover & Co., Lehman Brothers and Greenwich NatWest Capital Markets.

Although securitizations continue in the company's mix of options, Hurwitz said there will likely be a preference for conventional financings in the future because the company wants to be able to book the cash gains rather than treating the transactions as off-balance sheet items.

In addition to its ongoing financing activities, Hurwitz acknowledged that the company has a sizeable amount of residuals and subordinate tranches on its books and it is considering the possibility of a securitization utilizing these assets, although no decisions have been made. - David Feldheim