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Monday, January 09, 2006

The Biggest Fort Wayne Business Story for 2006 Will Be...

...The Fate of Waterfield Mortgage Company.

Sherry Slater of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported last Thursday on the sale rumors cascading over Waterfield Mortgage and its affiliated company, Union Federal Bank.

In an unusual construction, she cast the report as a story on the rumors surrounding the company as opposed to a story about the company itself. Given that the rumors seem to center on sales to publically-traded companies who cannot allow comment in advance of any company issued statement her construction is understandable.

Ms. Slater writes of the story, subsequently withdrawn by WTHR-TV, that had quoted representatives of Governor Daniels and Indiana Commerce Secretary Mickey Maurer.
On Dec. 23, WTHR-TV, Channel 13, in Indianapolis, posted a report on its Web site that said Waterfield was preparing to announce the sale of its mortgage operation to Melville, N.Y.-based American Home Mortgage and its banking operation, Union Federal Bank, to Bowling Green, Ohio-based Sky Bank.
The station withdrew the report about an hour after it was posted, saying all the facts had not been verified. Representatives for two sources quoted in the report, Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Economic Development Corp. President Mickey Maurer, told The Journal Gazette on Wednesday that WTHR took their comments out of context. They had no communication with the companies about any kind of acquisition.

Ms. Slater then goes on to catalogue the various denials, comments about the need for no comment and so on from all the companies involved.

Loss of Waterfield will be a big blow to hopes for Fort Wayne's economic growth. Fort Wayne's status as a substantial center for financial services would have evaporated within one decade.

Indiana Parley's prediction for an official announcement regarding the Waterfield Companies is some time before February 1.

MORE: What happens when you Google the word "Waterfield"? Why, you get this reference to the WTHR-TV story:
Union Federal jobs may go away
WTHR, IN - Dec 23, 2005
... The other part of the Union Federal sale involves its residential mortgage side, operating under the name Waterfield, will go to New York City-based American ...
What appears on the WTHR-TV website when one hits the link? This:
Our apologies.
You have reached a page that is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please use your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page.
More: Link to the history of Union Federal Savings Bank.
"In May, 1999 the Waterfield family stockholders wanted to reduce a portion of their 95 percent ownership in Waterfield Mortgage, parent of Union Federal. Rather than sell to another bank, the family sold 50 percent to officers and outside investors. This action backed up our verbal commitment of being "Indiana owned and operated"."

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