Signet to sell 24 loan offices in Md., 6 other states Dallas company to pay undisclosed amount

November 19, 1996|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

A month after it announced a top-to-bottom restructuring, Signet Banking Corp. said yesterday that it had agreed to sell 24 mortgage loan production offices for an undisclosed price and close two others.

The deal with Dallas-based AccuBanc Mortgage Corp. is expected to close at the end of December.

"We don't think that that business offers the kind of long-term potential we want," said Teri Schrettenbrunner, a spokeswoman for Signet, which has $11 billion in assets, and operates more than 80 branches in Maryland. The corporation has its headquarters in Richmond, Va., but bases its commercial lending business and a $1 billion-asset leasing company in Baltimore.

Schrettenbrunner said the company would keep its $8 billion servicing portfolio, and continue generating mortgages through the mail and over the telephone rather than through loan production offices.

Signet, through its subsidiary, Signet Mortgage Corp., has operated 26 mortgage loan production offices in Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee and four other states, which employ 316 people.

AccuBanc will pick up 248 of Signet Mortgage's 316 employees in the transaction, and the 24 offices will give it 100 in 27 states.

"The addition of the Signet production team represents a tremendous enhancement to AccuBanc's drive to become the industry's mortgage production leader," William R. Starkey Sr., AccuBanc's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

As part of the deal, AccuBanc will also pick up Signet's production operations hub in Columbia, which employs 78 people, Schrettenbrunner said. Of those workers, 71 will be offered jobs with AccuBanc, she said.

Of the 68 employees who aren't employed by AccuBanc, Schrettenbrunner said, 11 will lose their jobs when Signet closes the two loan production offices in Virginia Beach, Va., and Nashville, Tenn., that weren't sold. The employees will receive severance packages, she said.

A portion of the 57 remaining employees will be offered jobs with Signet's mortgage servicing and support operations. Those who don't will receive a severance package and lose their jobs in the first quarter of next year, Schrettenbrunner said.

Signet last month announced that it was overhauling the company and hiring Aston Associates, a New York-based consulting firm, to lead the reorganization.

Signet's goal is to transform itself into a diversified finance company that markets deposits and loan products nationwide through the mail and over the telephone.

The company began the transition several years ago using mass mailings to reach customers.

Pub Date: 11/19/96

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