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Fidelity calls off LandAmerica merger

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Fidelity National Financial Inc. has called off its plan to acquire troubled rival LandAmerica Financial Group Inc., the companies said Friday, a development that casts doubt on LandAmerica's long-term prospects.Fidelity and LandAmerica both issued terse statements at 8 p.m. Eastern Time Friday saying Fidelity had exercised its right to back out of the deal during a due diligence period.LandAmerica lost $599.6 million during the third quarter and was in danger of defaulting on its debts, the company said in a recent regulatory filing. Fidelity announced an agreement on Nov. 7 to acquire LandAmerica in an all stock deal valued at $128 million (see Inman News story). Based on their 2007 market share, the combined companies might have controlled about 45 percent of the U.S. title insurance business. By comparison, the nation's biggest title insurer, First American Corp., had a 30 percent market share last year.But the merger agreement gave Fidelity until Nov. 21 to conduct a due diligen...