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Lake Oswego Title Insurer is on Expansion Binge, CEO Says – The Oregonian

By June 23, 2010 No Comments

By Jeff ManningThe Oregonian 

Six months after quietly opening its doors, title insurance startup WFG National Title Insurance Co. is up and running in 33 states and employs 200 people — 80 of them in Oregon. 

It’s on the acquisition trail and looking to quickly build a national footprint, said Patrick Stone, WFG’s chief executive. 

All this is happening from a headquarters in Lake Oswego. 

“It’s the right time to enter the market,” said Stone, who announced the company’s birth in a press release Wednesday and agreed to talk to The Oregonian. “The business hasn’t innovated much in recent years, which creates an opening for us. Plus, from a business valuation point of view, this is a great time.” 

The pain and uncertainty in the real estate industry continues at such a heightened level that related assets like title insurance companies are available relatively cheap. 

Locally, many title insurance offices have off staff and moved others to part-time in an effort to cut costs. 

“We’ve been able to recruit because of that,” Stone said. 

Stone was formerly CEO of Fidelity National Financial, of Irvine, Calif. The company had annual revenue in the $3 billion range in 2004, the year Stone retired. 

Since December, WFG has made three significant acquisitions. It bought New Millennium, an $8 million-a-year company in Minneapolis and it acquired two title insurance underwriters from TransUnion in Chicago. 

It has opened six title offices in Oregon. 

WFG wants more. Currently, the company has seven letters of intent pending to acquire other operations, Stone said. 

He declined to divulge how much WFG has spent in these deals. The company is backed by Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private equity firm. 

WFG chose to locate in Lake Oswego in part because Stone and his wife had retired here. But Stone said he and his backers were also attracted to the Portland area because of its “large population highly skilled and educated people seeking professional positions.” 

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