LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. will combine its residential and lender services channel at the end of next month, an internal reorganization the company said will not result in layoffs.

Beginning in July, LandAmerica will provide services to builders, Realtors and lenders through a single residential services customer channel.

LandAmerica’s lender services channel has typically served large lenders such as Bank of America, Washington Mutual and Countrywide Financial Corp., providing quick turnaround on high-volume orders, said company spokeswoman Lloyd Osgood.

The residential services channel has provided customized services to builders, Realtors and smaller "front line" lenders in local markets. The combined channel will have the local sales and service capabilities of the existing residential services channel and the operational efficiencies of lender service, Osgood said.

In a press release announcing the change, LandAmerica said Melissa Hill will serve as president of the new combined channel. The current president of the lender services channel, Albert Will, has been appointed executive vice president of the combined channel, the company said in a regulatory filing.

LandAmerica posted a $24.2 million first-quarter loss, as revenue fell 27.6 percent to $686.4 million. Operating revenue for title operations fell 29.7 percent, to $556 million, and the segment posted a $27.9 million loss for the quarter, compared with $34.1 million in net earnings a year ago.

Lender services saw first-quarter operating revenue fall by 13.9 percent from a year ago, to $71.4 million, but generated $10.1 million in pretax earnings. The decline in revenue was attributed to lower volumes in products provided to loan servicers and mortgage originators. LandAmerica said the declines were partly offset by growth in default management services.

Although the housing downturn has the company in the red, LandAmerica says it boosted its market share by 90 basis points during the first quarter, while continuing to cut costs.

Since the beginning of 2007, LandAmerica has laid off the equivalent of 3,600 full-time employees — 25 percent of the company’s workforce — and closed or consolidated nearly 300 offices and 54 production centers, Chief Executive Officer Ted Chandler said in a conference call with investors.

Most of the cuts — the equivalent of 3,200 full-time jobs — came in title operations, a 28 percent reduction from the 11,500 once employed in that segment. Most of the layoffs in title operations occurred in the residential group, which has been most affected by the decline in mortgage originations.

During the same period, LandAmerica cut the equivalent of 300 full-time jobs in lender services, leaving 1,500 employed in the segment.

LandAmerica has also launched a "Technology Fusion" initiative to eliminate some of the more than 300 operating systems in use throughout the company. During the first quarter, LandAmerica "decommissioned" 12 software applications, or 34 percent of the goal for the year.


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