Stewart Acquires Advance Homestead Title of Ocala, Florida

April 12, 2005

HOUSTON, April 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Stewart Title Co. has acquired Advance Title Holding Co. and its subsidiary, Advance Homestead Title, both located in Ocala, Fla. Stewart already owned a minority interest in the holding company and acquired the remaining interest from Thomas F. Stenson.

"Ocala is one of the fastest-growing areas in Florida and we are delighted to add Advance to our Stewart family of companies," said Harold Hickman, group president, Stewart Title Co. "Stewart has enjoyed a long-time relationship with Tom Stenson and he will continue to work with us. Advance fits right into our growth strategy and our customers will continue to receive the same great service from the same staff and management team."

Stewart and Advance's relationship goes back 13 years. "The remarkable growth of this company has been made possible through the partnership established in 1992 with Stewart Title," said Stenson, who had owned the agency since 1990. "Since our respective managements have worked so closely together over the years, the complete acquisition will only fortify what already exists."

"I remember meeting with Tom back in March 1992," said Jimmy E. Hickman, Florida district manager, Stewart Title. "I explained to him that Stewart wanted to be in Marion County very much -- and the rest is history."

Stenson will continue to serve on the board of directors of Advance and will also be working with Stewart as a consultant. Patti Sweet serves as president of both the title company and the holding company. "I started in the title insurance industry with Stewart Title in Tampa before moving to Ocala, so I have come full circle," said Sweet. "Our senior management is staying in place. We have worked comfortably with Stewart for a long time. Our employees are excited and positive about the benefits, strength and security of a national company."

Advance has nine closing offices covering the following counties: Alachua, Citrus, Duval, Marion and Nassau. Its title plant operation services 50 of the 67 counties in Florida.

Source: Stewart Title


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