U.S. Opposes Merger of Title Insurers Fidelity National and Stewart

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Friday that it had filed an administrative complaint aimed at preventing title insurance provider Fidelity National Financial, Inc. from buying rival Stewart Information Services Corp.

The FTC valued the deal at $1.2 billion.

The two firms are among four that insure buyers and sellers against problems with a property’s title that might cause a transaction to be canceled, the FTC said.

“Competitive title insurance and title information markets are essential to providing Americans affordable and high-quality title insurance products,” said Bureau of Competition Director Bruce Hoffman in a statement. “Our action seeks to preserve important and beneficial competition that plays out every day in every real estate transaction across the United States.”

Stewart said in a statement that it was reviewing the lawsuit. “We are disappointed with this outcome and disagree with the FTC’s decision,” the company said in a statement. “We will communicate our next steps to our stakeholders in the near future as soon as this review is complete.”

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Steve Orlofsky)