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ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

Fidelity National Steps Up Loan Diversification Plans

November 19, 1998|Bloomberg News

Fidelity National Financial Inc., the nation's fourth-largest title insurer, will make acquisitions in the next six to nine months as the company continues its move into commercial lending, President Frank Willey said Wednesday.

Irvine-based Fidelity National wants to buy specialty finance companies, such as those making loans used to lease equipment, in an effort to diversify its business and insulate the company from interest rate gyrations, Willey told investors at a financial conference in New York.

Fidelity National also wants to take advantage of the sharp declines in share prices of many specialty finance companies in recent months, he said. Finance companies were hurt as the value of the securities used to finance their loans fell when investors shunned all the but the safest U.S. Treasury investments after Russia's default in August.

The insurer began its move into commercial lending with its February purchase of Golden, Colo.-based Granite Financial Inc., which makes loans to mid-sized businesses buying equipment such as computers, manufacturing and office equipment.

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