Aames Investment Corp., a national subprime mortgage lender based in California, is in discussions with several parties regarding a potential merger or sale of the company, Aames said last week.

The mortgage real estate investment trust said there could be no assurance that any transaction will be completed or of the price of any such acquisition, but it believes there is “significant probability” it will enter into a definitive agreement during the second quarter.

Aames has retained Credit Suisse Inc. as its adviser in the transaction.

Other home-loan specialists, including Countrywide Financial Corp. in Calabasas, Calif., and Ameriquest Mortgage Co. in Orange, Calif., have reported the effects of the mortgage market slowdown.

Washington Mutual is laying off 256 workers from its Florence, S.C., support center, the company said May 3, a move following on the heels of its February announcement of plans to close 10 of its 26 home-loan processing centers, eliminating 2,500 jobs.

Last week, Aames reported diluted net loss per common share of 22 cents for the first quarter of 2006. The company said that excluding a pretax mark-to-market derivative loss of $5.2 million and charges related to the company’s cost reduction program and other non-core charges of $2.3 million, core loss per diluted share for the quarter was $6 million, or 10 cents per share.

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