First American gambled, lost on Mercury expansion

Dispute over Colorado subsidiaries lands in court

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First American Corp. could wind up with little to show for bankrolling the growth of the title and escrow subsidiaries of Mercury Companies Inc. to the tune of nearly $100 million during the housing boom.

First American is writing off its investment in Mercury, which it had last valued at $37.3 million, after a judge declined to block the sale of Mercury’s Colorado title operations to rival Fidelity National Financial Inc.