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Wilbur Ross Discusses Ocwen Chairman Bill Erbey

Ross:

So we are investors in Ocwen because what happened we sold them Homeward Residential. They took over $2.25 billion of debt of mostly debt funding advances, and then they gave us, the deal was $750 million of equity, of which $160 million was a convertible preferred in Ocwen, which has worked out very well. It had a $35 strike price, and the stocks are now in the 50s. So we really don't have any direct participation in anything but Ocwen itself.

TheStreet:

I see. And the last I spoke to you was just shortly after the day the deal was announced with Homeward. You were very bullish on Ocwen.

Ross:

Yeah. That's right.

TheStreet:

Yeah. What's your biggest concern that could sort of derail the bull case for Ocwen?

Ross:

Well I think it's very, very hard to see anything that could totally derail the case. It's one of the few, and mortgage Servicing is one of the few businesses that benefits from rising interest rates, and it's especially one of the few mortgage-related businesses that related from it. I don't know if you understand that aspect of it or not, but if not I'll be glad to explain it to you.

TheStreet:

Well, I think I do just in the sense that, you know, as rates rise people aren't going to refinance. So you hold on to the value of the MSRs [mortgage servicing rights.]

Ross:

Yeah. So anything that extends the life of the MSR adds value. So whereas many parts of the mortgage business, say the origination part, may be somewhat vulnerable to an increase in rates. In fact, Ocwen, and companies like it, are pretty good hedge against increasing rates. So the whole money market phenomenon, which as you know has become a big deal in terms of people looking at the stocks nowadays, it's really not relevant as the problem. Indeed it's the benefit because it's obviously not much room for rates to go down, and I don't think there's anybody, even at the Federal Reserve, who sees rates going down from where they are now. So the only real question is, "When will they go up? How much will they go up?" Whatever is the answer to those two questions will be beneficial to Ocwen. So that big macro phenomenon, I think, is fine.

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