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The acquisition of Lender Processing Services, Inc. by Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (FNF - Snapshot Report) is approaching its final stage with the recent nod from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

FTC has approved the deal on condition that Fidelity National will divest its interest in a title plant in Portland, Oregon within five months. The terms of the approval also include the divestiture of a copy of Lender Processing’s title plant assets in six Oregon counties and Fidelity National’s interest in a title plant covering Portland, Oregon. Shares of Fidelity National improved 2.9% to $32.94 on Dec 24 after the approval.
 
Florida-based Lender Processing is a leading provider of comprehensive technology solutions and services, data and analytics to the paramount mortgage lenders and investors of the nation. Fidelity National on the other hand is a provider of title insurance, mortgage and other services in Florida. In May this year, Fidelity National inked a deal to acquire Lender Processing for $2.9 billion or $33.25 per share. Fidelity National will pay the purchase consideration in cash and FNF common stock. The deal, which was previously scheduled to conclude in the fourth quarter of 2013, is now expected to close on Jan 2, 2014.

Following the completion of the deal, the ServiceLink business of Fidelity will merge with Lender Processing to form a new consolidated holding company. Fidelity National will retain an 81% stake in the new holding company and sell the remaining 19% for a cash consideration of $381 million to the funds associated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P.

Previously, the deal was approved by the shareholders of Lender Processing in its Special Stockholder Meeting held on Dec 19, 2013. More than 98% of the voters had cast their votes in favor of the deal, reflecting 78% of the outstanding shares. Nevertheless, the deal was awaiting regulatory approvals and satisfaction of closing conditions. Now, with the approval from FTC, the deal has moved another step toward its culmination.

Fidelity National expects the acquisition to generate cost synergies of more than $100 million and be accretive to future earnings. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 is currently pegged at $2.01, representing a year-over-year improvement of 6.8%  Moreover, addition of Lender Processing Services to its portfolio will ensure a diversified as well as a recurring revenue base for Fidelity National. Fidelity National currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). With optimism over the acqusition, we expect analysts to raise their estimates exerting upward directional pressure on the Zacks Rank.

Some better-ranked stocks in the property and casualty insurance space include Cincinnati Financial Corp. (CINF - Analyst Report) and Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG (AWH - Snapshot Report). Both stocks hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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