IndyMac Bancorp Inc. announced Tuesday that it has hired more than 600 former American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. employees as part of an ongoing expansion of its retail lending group.

New York-based American Home Mortgage, which originated $59 billion in loans in 2006, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this month.

IndyMac — which briefly stopped originating Alt-A loans this month because of a lack of demand from investors who buy them on the secondary market — said the new hires specialize in prime, conforming, FHA and other agency-eligible mortgages. IndyMac said it is in discussions to hire another 150 to 250 American Home Mortgage workers.

About three quarters of the new hires are retail loan officers, and eight out of 10 will be located in the western U.S., IndyMac said. The company has entered into license agreements to assume the leases of more than 90 American Home Mortgage offices, and is also planning to purchase six branch offices of Newport, Calif.-based Barrington Capital and hire 90 retail loan officers who work at the branches.

Those hires, along with the recently completed acquisition of New York Mortgage Co.’s retail lending division, will bring IndyMac’s retail lending group to nearly 1,500 employees, up from 13 a year ago.

IndyMac made a “prudent trade” by cutting back $5 billion per quarter on “low margin, Alt-A conduit business to make room for growth in higher-margin retail business,” said Frank Sillman, chief executive officer of IndyMac’s mortgage bank. In a statement, Sillman said quarterly loan production in the retail lending group is expected to reach $1.5 billion by the fourth quarter of the year.

The company’s principal subsidiary, IndyMac Bank FSB, is a hybrid thrift and mortgage broker, funding loans through bank deposits, Federal Home Loan Bank advances, long-term debt and equity.

IndyMac Bank has shifted the mix of its mortgage production so that 90 percent of loans are eligible for repurchase by government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, compared with 40 percent during the second quarter.

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