Exclusive: Mortgage and fleet company PHH explores sales - sources

Tue Oct 8, 2013 8:01am EDT
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By Jessica Toonkel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - PHH Corp (PHH.N: Quote) is exploring splitting up its mortgage and auto fleet leasing businesses, and selling each of the units, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters on Monday.

The Sparks, Maryland-based company has been discussing selling its businesses in two parts for the past several months, according to the sources, who wished to remain anonymous because discussions are confidential.

The company, whose market capitalization is $1.4 billion, has approached both mortgage servicers Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc (NSM.N: Quote) and Ocwen Financial Corp (OCN.N: Quote) about purchasing its mortgage business, but neither discussion resulted in a deal, two of the sources said.

Last month, activist investor Orange Capital LLC reported a 5 percent stake in PHH and called for a break-up of the company's assets, driving its shares up as much as 8 percent.

"Our focus remains on continuing to successfully execute our strategic plan and delivering value for our clients and our shareholders," a PHH spokesman said, declining to comment further. Ocwen and Nationstar spokesmen declined to comment.

As a whole, a deal for PHH could be valued around $1.5 billion, two of the sources said.

But Kevin Barker, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading LLC, believes that a sale of the company as a whole could be valued as much as $1.7 billion. If PHH splits up the business, the mortgage business could sell for around $1.1 billion and the fleet business could be sold for around $700 million, Barker said.

Orange Capital sent a letter to PHH CEO and President Glen Messina in September recommending that he hire a financial adviser to sell or IPO its fleet management services and create a finance vehicle to own a stake in its mortgage servicing and origination business.   Continued...