Fred Eppinger who is credited with generating “record-setting growth and success” earned $5.15 million in total 2021 compensation, the company said.

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Fred Eppinger has at least three more years to realize his vision of transforming title insurer Stewart Information Services Corp. into an end-to-end technology platform, after reaching terms with the company’s board of directors to extend his term as CEO through 2025.

Since becoming Stewart’s CEO in September of 2019 in the wake of a failed merger attempt with Fidelity National Financial, the 30-year insurance industry veteran has driven “record-setting growth and success,” the company said Tuesday in announcing Eppinger’s three-year contract extension.

Thomas Apel

“We are extremely pleased to extend Fred’s agreement for another three years,” said Thomas Apel, chairman of Stewart’s board of directors, in a statement. “His steady and experienced hand since assuming the CEO role in 2019, and his ability to deliver financial stability and shareholder value, gives us the utmost confidence Stewart will continue its significant progress under his stewardship.”

Under Eppinger’s leadership, Stewart has acquired a stable of companies to fill in holes in its ancillary services offerings, which include appraisal management services, search and valuation and online notarization and closing solutions. In September 2021, Stewart closed a $192 million deal to acquire data and analytics provider Informative Research, a move that was followed by a $175 million acquisition of property data aggregator PropStream in November.

Fred Eppinger

“Stewart continues to invest in the creation of an end-to-end, customer-focused real estate services and technology platform,” Eppinger said at the time of the Informative Research (IR) acquisition. “By bringing IR into the Stewart family of companies, we further reflect that commitment and advance our data and analytics capabilities.”

By the end of last year, Eppinger said Stewart could be “more selective” about acquiring ancillary businesses, even as it continued to acquire title agencies in Michigan, Washington and Ohio that could help it grow market share in its core title insurance business.

According to data compiled by the American Land Title Association (ALTA), Stewart remains the smallest of the “big four” title insurers, but grew its market share to 10.3 percent during the second quarter, up from 9.6 percent a year ago.

Title insurance premiums written, Q2 2022

Title insurance premiums written by company, ($ billions) Source: American Land Title Association

“Three years ago, we set a goal of becoming the premier title services company, and I’m excited to be able to continue to lead our employees on this journey,” Eppinger said of his contract extension. “We have made incredible strides on this path, but work remains. I am grateful to Tom and the Board for the confidence they have placed in me to build a resilient company that will flourish for decades to come.”

Under the terms of his new employment agreement, Eppinger will earn a base salary of $953,000 annually, with the potential to earn millions more through incentive bonuses and stock and option awards.

Stewart CEO Fred Eppinger compensation, 2019-2021

Source: Stewart Information Services regulatory filing

Eppinger’s 2021 compensation totalled $5.15 million including a $879,750 base salary, nearly $2.2 million in incentive bonuses, and about $2 million in stock and option awards, according to a regulatory filing.

David Hisey, Stewart’s chief financial officer, secretary and treasurer, was the next highest paid executive, with 2021 compensation totaling $2.6 million including a $493,750 base salary and $987,500 in incentive pay.

John Killea

Stewart also announced this week that the company’s top legal officer John Killea plans to retire early next year. Killea, whose 2021 compensation totaled $2.07 million, will be succeeded by Elizabeth Giddens, who joins Stewart from Integer Holdings Corp., where she was senior vice president and general counsel.

“Since I became CEO in 2019, I have benefited from John’s judgment and advice on a wide variety of issues affecting our company,” Eppinger said, in a statement. “During his 22-plus years at Stewart, he has been a trusted and dependable leader to our employees and customers alike, guiding a legal team that is recognized for its excellence in our industry.”

Elizabeth Giddens

Eppinger said Giddens “has a diverse background including a number of years in the mortgage industry with proven success and she brings deep experience in securities law, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and ethics and compliance to Stewart.”

While rising mortgage rates have stunted the growth of many mortgage lenders it serves, Stewart continues to look for ways to expand its business.

On Oct. 4, Stewart announced the acquisition of Rockville, Maryland-based FNC Title Services LLC (FNC), a full-service title and settlement company specializing in reverse mortgage closings. FNC has developed a national platform serving the top 25 U.S. reverse mortgage lenders, Stewart said.

Two days later, Cloudvirga, a digital mortgage point of sale platform Stewart acquired last year, announced the launch of a new wholesale third-party origination (TPO) platform to serve mortgage brokers.

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Email Matt Carter

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