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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 7, 201805:00 AM EST

Fidelity National Financial encouraged about acquisition

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Jacksonville title insurance company agrees to by Houston-based Stewart Information Services for $1.2 billion
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Fidelity National Financial Inc. reported adjusted first quarter earnings of 42 cents a share, 7 cents higher than last year.

The Jacksonville-based title insurance company already dominates its industry, and late in the quarter it announced a $1.2 billion agreement to buy Houston-based Stewart Information Services Corp.

Bill Foley

That deal would increase Fidelity’s share of the U.S. title insurance market from 32 percent to 42 percent, but insurance regulators could force the company to divest some of the combined operations to reduce its dominance in certain markets.

During Fidelity’s conference call with analysts Thursday, Chairman Bill Foley said the company already has met with regulators in several states and he is encouraged.

“We really have seen no particular roadblocks or things that would preclude the transaction,” he said.

“Things look good, they look positive, but it’s just a process and it’s going to take a while.”

Foley said company officials also have been holding town hall meetings with Stewart employees.

“The meetings were well received and we consistently heard the employee excitement of putting the prolonged uncertainty that has existed at Stewart behind them and a desire to get back to focusing on their customers and growing their brand,” he said.

Months before agreeing to the Fidelity deal, Stewart had announced it was looking for a possible buyer.

Fidelity expects to close the deal late in the fourth quarter or early in next year’s first quarter, Foley said.

 

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