Boat-loans firm to expand in Annapolis; Republic Security to run lender subsidiary from new headquarters in Md.; Financial services


Republic Security Financial Corp., a Florida banking company, said yesterday that it has acquired marine finance lender National Horizon Inc. for an undisclosed price, and will operate it from a new headquarters in Annapolis.

As part of the acquisition, National Horizon has also been merged into First New England Financial, a subsidiary of the West Palm Beach banking company. The combined companies have retained the First New England name.

With the acquisition, First New England Financial is now able to tap into the small and midsize boating market that is National Horizon's specialty, said Dave Blancett, president of First New England Financial.

First New England specializes in making yacht loans that range from $75,000 to $10 million, while National Horizon, which had also been based in Florida, has focused on loans from $15,000 to $500,000.

The transaction will also help First New England expand financial services and products, such as yacht titling and registration, Blancett said.

"It was really one of those mergers where one-plus-one equals three," Blancett said. "In the context of the marine financing industry, this is a very big deal."

First New England employs about 35 people with nine of them in Annapolis. It also has 13 offices from Seattle to San Diego and from Foxboro, Mass., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The company expects to generate about $300 million to $400 million in marine loans each year, about double what it had generated before the merger, Blancett said.

"We believe it makes us the largest [marine lender] in the country," he said

Blancett said the yacht market is strong and has been boosted by the robust stock market.

"The manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up with production," he said.

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