Ameriquest closes 229 offices, lays off 3,800

Dallas Business Journal - May 3, 2006

The parent company of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and Town and Country Credit retail mortgage subsidiaries is closing all 229 of it retail branch offices and laying off about 3,800 associates as part of a new business model.

ACC Capital Holdings will centralize operations at its regional production centers in Arizona, California, Connecticut and Illinois.

The company has offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In 2004, the Texas Rangers announced a 30-year, $75 million deal with Ameriquest Mortgage Co. to rename its ballpark (in Arlington) Ameriquest Field. Ameriquest spokesman Chris Orlando said the changes will have no impact on the company's arrangement with the Rangers.

Orange, Calif.-based Ameriquest writes home loans and home equity loans. It makes a market in regular loans and also serves customers with less-than-perfect credit. The company was founded in 1980 as Long Beach Savings and Loan. It changed its name in 1997.

Tuesday's announcement comes on the heels of a $325 million nationwide settlement in January, in which ACC Capital Holding Corp. and its subsidiaries agreed to pay $295 million to consumers and make sweeping reforms of practices that states alleged amounted to predatory lending. Ameriquest also agreed to pay $30 million to 49 states and the District of Columbia for costs of the investigation or consumer education and enforcement.

As part of the settlement, Ameriquest denied all the allegations raised by the states, but agreed to a battery of new standards to prevent what the states alleged were unfair and deceptive practices.

Under the new retail business model announced Tuesday, ACC Capital Holdings will centralize its retail branch network into existing regional mortgage production centers in California, Arizona, Illinois and Connecticut.

The new business model "fully adheres" to the company's agreement with the states, according to the statement.

"The strategy and business practices of our new retail model are well aligned with our commitment to consumer friendly lending polices with the business enhancements included in our multistage agreement," Vice Chairman Adam Bass said in the statement.

"Although difficult, the decisions announced today are the best strategy for improving our cost structure and increasing our ability to price loans competitively -- changes that are critical to our long-term success," he said, adding that the company will "assist" those laid off.

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