Owner of NYSE, MERS to acquire property database firm

The deal paves the way for further digitization of mortgage ecosystem
May 11, 2019 01:00PM

(Credit: iStock)

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the company which owns the New York Stock Exchange, has a commanding role in stock markets worldwide. But now the Atlanta-based firm appears to be angling for a similar position in U.S. mortgage markets.

ICE announced on May 1 that it would pay $335 million to acquire Simplifile, the nation’s largest e-recording network and provider of property record databases for county recorder offices. On the heels of ICE’s full acquisition of mortgage database MERS last fall, the move will allow ICE to further digitize the mortgage ecosystem. (MERS has faced controversy in the past over its alleged role in precipitating the 2008 housing crisis.)

“Simplifile and MERS support the residential lending industry’s shift to digitization and will, together, help to make the mortgage closing process simpler, faster, and more transparent for a range of industry stakeholders,” ICE said in a press release.

According to the release, the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, subject to an antitrust law that requires large companies to file a report before completing a merger. If the acquisition goes through, the firm’s 200 employees will continue to operate in Provo, Utah under the Simplifile name.

Simplifile’s online databases allow various stakeholders to submit deeds, mortgage records and tax liens electronically, and let recorders “electronically review, stamp, record, and return documents back to the submitter within minutes of receipt.” The company works with 1,922 of 3,142 county recorder offices, which represents 80 percent of the U.S. population. [Inman] — Kevin Sun