First American's UK Unit Acquires Legal Services Provider Enact

—Further Strengthens Position as Top Insurer of UK Refinance Mortgage Transactions—


November 11, 2004, SANTA ANA, Calif.

The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF) today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary First Title plc, the leading provider of title insurance and mortgage processing services in the United Kingdom, has acquired Enact Conveyancing Limited, a Leeds, UK, -based provider of volume legal services to the housing sector. Terms of the transaction, which closed in October 2004, were not disclosed.

Combined, First Title and Enact now insure more refinance mortgage activity than any other company in the UK.  Insuring refinancing mortgage transactions is a relatively untapped market opportunity in the UK, with only 5 percent of all UK refinance mortgage transactions currently title insured. This percentage has grown steadily over the past 4 years and is expected to continue to grow through increased lender adoption.   

The acquisition comes 15 months after Enact was purchased by its senior management from Addleshaw Goddard, a leading UK law firm.  The company is now focused on the high volume mortgage processing market, complementing First American's strategy in the region.

“Over the past 12 months, First Title has handled in excess of 100,000 refinance mortgages,” said David Thorpe, chief executive officer of First Title.  “This acquisition supports our aggressive growth strategy as we are doubling our processing capability and, as a result, becoming the market leader in the provision of such services to the lending industry.  We have retained the Enact management team and look forward to building upon their initial success.” 

Richard Dinning, chairman and chief executive officer of Enact, added:  “This is a tremendously exciting development for Enact and a significant achievement for its management team—less than half way through our inaugural, three-year business plan.  Having the financial strength of a global business dedicated to the lending and property sector, we will be able to grow and develop at a faster pace than previously envisaged. With such a strong strategic fit, the current management team had no hesitation in committing themselves to joining First Title.”

The timing of the acquisition is also appropriate in light of anticipated UK legislation requiring Home Information Packs, consolidated property documents that sellers must provide potential buyers before an offer is made on a property.  Home Information Packs—which include among other items: title documents, a draft contract and a property condition report—are already required in Denmark and Australia.  They are intended to streamline the home-buying process and are expected to generate increased demand for title insurance products. 

The growth of First Title through this acquisition represents another step in First American’s international expansion strategy.  With more than 1,000 employees in the UK, Canada and Australia, First American continues to expand outside the United States.  

“While it takes considerable time and investment to introduce title insurance to foreign markets, our efforts are starting to pay real dividends,” said Thomas Grifferty, vice president of International Operations for First American.  “The fact that we have pioneered the concept in several new markets has placed us in dominant market positions in these countries.  In addition, because of our international experiences we are uniquely positioned to leverage our expertise and take advantage of other global opportunities that continue to arise.”  

The companies will continue to operate under their existing names and structure.  Dinning has been appointed to the board of directors for First Title.

Enact was advised on the transaction by Pinsents and Deloittes. First Title was advised by the City Law Partnership and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 

About Enact
Enact is based in Leeds, UK, and was created in a management buy-out from Addleshaw Goddard in 2003. It has established itself as a major provider in the mortgage refinance processing sector and currently works with four of the UK's top 10 mortgage lenders. 

About First Title
First Title plc has four offices in the UK employing more than 300 staff. It provides a wide range of innovative products that enable attorneys, mortgage lenders and real estate agents to deliver more efficient and advanced service to their property clients.  First Title is a wholly owned subsidiary of The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF).

About First American
The First American Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that traces its history to 1889. As the nation’s largest data provider, the company supplies businesses and consumers with information resources in connection with the major economic events of people’s lives, such as getting a job; renting an apartment; buying a car, house, boat or airplane; securing a mortgage; opening or buying a business; and planning for retirement. The First American Family of Companies, many of which command leading market share positions in their respective industries, operate within six primary business segments, including: Title Insurance and Services, Specialty Insurance, Mortgage Information, Property Information, Credit Information and Screening Information. With revenues of $6.21 billion in 2003, First American has 30,000 employees in approximately 1,800 offices throughout the United States and abroad. More information about the company and an archive of its press releases can be found at www.firstam.com.

 

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