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LandAmerica posts $600 million Q3 loss

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LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. lost $599.6 million during the third quarter, laid off nearly 1,000 employees and was in danger of defaulting on its debts, the company said in a regulatory filing that sheds light on the company's motivation for a planned merger with rival Fidelity National Financial Inc. All five of the nation's biggest title insurers were in the red during the third quarter, but LandAmerica's losses were far greater than any of its competitors. The company last week postponed the scheduled release of third-quarter earnings, before announcing plans to merge with Fidelity. LandAmerica said today the severe downturn in the housing and mortgage markets has "placed a significant strain on the company's liquidity and capital resources to the point that it has become increasingly difficult ... to remain an independent public company." Auction rate securities held for 1031 exchange customers have become illiquid, the company said, placing demand on cas...