Blackstone, Stearns Make a Deal

Blackstone has been snapping up all sorts of assets this year and Stearns Holdings is the latest.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Blackstone has been snapping up all sorts of assets this year and Stearns Holdings L.L.C. is the latest. Blackstone has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the national mortgage lending firm.

Stearns will bring a solid history and a great deal of prestige to its partnership with Blackstone. Established in 1989, the Santa Ana, Calif.-based company is considered one of the leading mortgage lenders in the U.S., providing services in the wholesale, retail, correspondent, and strategic alliances sectors. Additionally, Stearns can substantiate its success with a couple of small numbers: it ranks as the number 1 Wholesale Lender and the number 1 Privately Owned Purchase Money Mortgage Lender in the country, according to Inside Mortgage Finance and, respectively.

Stearns has a long list of titles following its name, including equal housing lender, approved U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lender, a single family issuer for Ginnie Mae and an approved seller/servicer for government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The company is also an authorized lender of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Agriculture. And the list goes on.

“We chose Stearns to be our partner because it is a leader in the mortgage market with a world-class management team and a strong platform,” Chinh Chu, a senior managing director with Blackstone, said in a prepared statement. Glenn Stearns, founder of Stearns, will continue to own a substantial percentage of the company.

If all goes as planned, the transaction will close by the end of the year.

Blackstone and its managed vehicles are rarely shy about making purchases involving a range of asset types. Notable transactions over the last few months include Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe IV’s $607 million acquisition of a 16-property U.K. logistics portfolio, and Blackstone Mortgage Trust Inc.’s signing of a definitive agreement to acquire a $4.6 billion commercial mortgage loan portfolio from GE Capital Real Estate.