Amresco Nears Deal, HEL In Question

The pending sale of Amresco Inc. may mark the end of a small but mighty era for the Texas-based financial services company.

"We're no longer doing securitizations in the home-equity or commercial-mortgages businesses," said Ron Kirkland, vice president and chief accounting officer at Amresco. "The only area in which we are continuing securitization is small business and franchise loans."

Since 1996, Amresco has issued residential mortgage ABS, pricing 15 home equity-backed bonds at more than $7.5 billion combined, though since the liquidity crisis of last fall - when investors shunned home-equity bonds - Amresco has been in serious trouble.

In the second quarter of this year Amresco reported a 38% profit decline in its residential lending businesses, reflecting a net income drop from $19.7 million to $12.1 million. Goldman, Sachs & Co. was employed to find a buyer for the company.

Though Amresco has halted securitization on the costly home-equity side of its business, raising capital on a strictly whole loan basis, the company still plans a few small franchise deals before the year's end, Kirkland said.

"We're anticipating a doing a securitization late in the third quarter," he said. "Probably in the neighborhood of $200 million to $250 million."

Sydney-based Lend Lease Corp., the company nearest to striking a deal with Amresco, manages real estate, pension funds, and provides a wide array financial services. But, as associate Mary Beth Lally explained, "Lend Lease does not have involvement in residential securitizations."