Mercury Companies Inc., a Colorado-based holding company that’s closed down its title and escrow companies in California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Nevada says it’s in negotiations to sell its remaining title companies in Colorado to First American Corp.

A spokeswoman for First American would not comment on the announcement by Mercury, which claims the companies are negotiating interim financing for the sale of Mercury’s Colorado companies, including Security Title, First American Heritage, Title America and United Title Company.

"While rising economic pressures and a declining real estate market forced Mercury Companies to close its operations in Arizona, Texas and California, its 60-year-old Colorado title companies continue to remain profitable and maintain strong market leadership, sharing approximately 30 percent of the Colorado market," Mercury said in a statement.

On July 29, Mercury shut down its title and escrow subsidiaries in California, Texas and Arizona, including Financial Title and Lenders Choice Title, after the parent company was reportedly denied additional credit by lenders (see story).

Mercury abruptly shut down California-based Alliance Title in December, and now faces lawsuits by the California Labor Commissioner and former employees who claim they are owed unpaid wages and expenses (see story).

First American, which is the sole underwriter of Financial Title and Lenders Choice, is helping clients of those companies with pending transactions move them to closing. Those with pending transactions are advised to call (925) 249-2819 for more information.

First American is also engaged in a legal battle with Mercury over its stake in the company and millions in loans dating back to 2001. In a press release Friday, First American put the carrying value of its investment in Mercury at $37.3 million, but said its write-downs of the investment could affect preliminary second-quarter earnings of $42 million (see story).

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