The Unexpected Juggernauts

June 14, 2002

Fidelity and First American Buy Up Remains Of Tech Glory Days

Inman News Features

Once sleepy dogs that took a back seat to the technology, real estate franchise and large mortgage companies, The First American Corp. (NYSE: FAF) and Fidelity National Information Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: FNIS) are moving quickly to build the backend of the real estate transaction by buying up both dot-com leftovers as well as some burgeoning technology success stories.

Both firms are making progress towards digitizing the transaction as they seem to be competing for which companies to buy next.

In May, First American acquired an equity ownership interest in MarketLinx Solutions, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based multiple listing service software company. First American said it intended to merge its Fusion MLS business with MarketLinx's MLS operations to create the nation's largest provider of Web-based MLS software.

The Fusion MLS and MarketLinx systems include marketing, productivity, financial and communications utilities that aid real estate sales associates in obtaining new listings, marketing properties for sale and scheduling and managing the closing process, according to the company.

Also in March, MonsterDaata sold its MapTracker and Custom MLS products to First American Real Estate Solutions.

Fidelity is also on the march through its subsidiary Fidelity National Information Service.

In May, FNIS acquired Factual Data Corp., a provider of mortgage credit reports and other mortgage-related services, consumer and commercial credit reports, resident screening and employment screening.

Also in May, the company acquired a 55 percent interest in Hansen Quality Loan Services Inc., a provider of collateral risk assessment and valuation services to the mortgage and investment banking industries.

In April, FNIS announced an all-stock tender offer for all the outstanding shares of Micro General Corp.

The challenge for both firms is knitting together these acquisitions into a single source of digitized services for real estate agents and lenders. Because they require technology integration, the task is daunting.

Copyright: Inman News Service

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