Ambac Financial Group Inc. Friday completed the sale of RangeMark Financial Services, the advisory services company it helped launch.
Rob Smith, RangeMark’s chief executive officer, was the purchaser.
Peter Poillon, a spokesman for Ambac, declined to offer details of the sale but said the proceeds are not material to Ambac’s balance sheet.
The sale was first announced in late March but “took a while to go through the negotiations and the valuation process,” Poillon said.
Ambac Financial is the parent company of troubled municipal bond insurer Ambac Assurance Corp., which maintains the second-largest insured portfolio in the industry but which has not written new policies since early 2008.
RangeMark’s origins stem from NSM Capital Management, which emerged in January 2007 as a leveraged credit asset management business before switching tactics in August 2007 to provide advisory services on structured credit solutions.
Ambac Financial became a client of NSM to better understand its exposure to mortgage-related structured finance products. It then acquired NSM in July 2009 and launched RangeMark in September of that year to expand those services.
Smith said RangeMark would continue to work with Ambac as it unwinds its holdings of mortgage-related products.
“They were an adviser client of ours before they purchased NSM, and they will continue to be,” he said. “We have a long-term contract to provide some of the work to help them assess the reserve adequacy related to mortgage securities — their exposure to mortgages.”
RangeMark’s municipal business was relatively small, Smith said, but it did create a web-based analytical tool called DIVER for use in the public finance sector.
Friday’s sale made that tool the basis for a new venture called Lumesis LLC.
According to Gregg Bienstock, a founding principal at Lumesis who formerly worked as a senior vice president at Ambac Financial, DIVER has been in beta testing for six weeks. He said the goal is to launch the production version of the system in late summer.
“It’s a unique tool in the sense that we’re not focused on financials of municipalities,” Bienstock said. “We’re focused on bringing together demographic information that will be more predictive of what is to come as opposed to what already has come, with regard to financial impact on municipalities.”
Bienstock said the company plans to target institutional investors initially, adding that the product faces little direct competition.