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Wilbur Ross Discusses Ocwen Chairman Bill Erbey

Stocks in this article: OCN

I guess the one thing you might worry about would be over regulation. As you know the consumer protection people are becoming very aggressive in regulating everything that has to do with consumer's finance. And as you know, there have been plenty of state attorneys general who brought all kinds of litigations, and have gotten all kinds of settlements. So over regulation is one potential problem.

The second potential problem, although they're dealing with it, is part of the reason they bought our business. Historically their big growth has been acquiring MSRs on a wholesale basis, quite large blocks at a time. Well even with higher rates there's a certain amount of runoff that will occur in the portfolio. So there are really two ways to try to keep the growth going. One is by continuing to buy more and more MSRs, and I believe that will go on for a while because of the capital treatment that they now get in the banks. So I think that you're going to continue seeing banks selling MSRs. But there is the problem, as your portfolio of MSRs gets big, you have to run harder and harder to make up for the runoff and then get enough more to grow.

So part of what he's done, and he did it with us and he's doing it elsewhere, is Homeward was originating quite a lot of mortgages, something like a billion dollars a month. And so he was aware that it would be a good idea to supplement the wholesale acquisition of MSRs. So he's creating his own MSRs by originating mortgages. Very few of the other players in this space have the foresight to do that in any kind of meaningful scale. So there's a potential vulnerability, but it's one that's he been doing.

Plus because he's so large, and has such a low cost of capital, he can be very, very competitive in terms of the bidding on the MSRs. And on occasion a seller who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to have a big quasi-public auction, because they don't want to press coverage, on a number of times, since everybody knows they can make a quick decision and he has no problem funding it, on a couple of times they've been able to buy stuff on a one off basis, and whenever you can avoid an auction you usually get things a little bit cheaper than you might in an auction. So while that's a theoretical vulnerability, the runoff, I think he's positioned himself pretty well to cope with it. And that's the kind of strategic thinking that he does.

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