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Marina Mortgage Is Purchased

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Marina Mortgage Co., an Irvine-based home lender, has been acquired for about $7.4 million by an East Coast online mortgage banker, the companies said Thursday.

American Home Mortgage Holdings, a publicly traded lender based in New York, said it will pay about $4.9 million in stock plus $2.5 million over five years to buy Marina Mortgage.

“This positions American Home in the important West Coast market,” said Gene Marbach, a company spokesman.

Marina, formerly a privately held firm controlled by Jay Johnston and Ron Bergum, operates 14 loan branches in California and Arizona. The company has 235 employees.

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American Home officials said they plan to retain the Marina name and the Irvine office. No layoffs are expected.

Former owners Johnston and Bergum are expected to remain with the company, Marbach said.

American Home was attracted by Marina’s Internet-based division, called Consumer First Mortgage, and its Internet call center, which the company hopes to use to expand into California and other Western states.

American Home Chairman Michael Strauss said the West Coast operations will enable the company to better serve its own growing online business, known as MortgageSelect.com.

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