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Stewart Title Issues First Commercial Title Guaranty in Slovak Republic

August 25, 2004

HOUSTON, /PRNewswire/ -- The Slovak Republic office of Stewart Information International Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC - News), has issued the first commercial title guaranty in the Slovak Republic. The title guaranty covers a portfolio of office buildings located in Bratislava and has a combined value of more than 90 million Euros ($120 million).

The acquisition represents the sixth major investment by HCEPP II, Heitman LLC's Central European Property Fund and its first investment in the Slovak Republic. The existing properties were acquired in a joint venture with the developer, B.S.R. Europe (TASE: BSR), a subsidiary of B.S.R. Engineering and Development, and Leader Holdings and Investment (TASE: LDER). The newly- developed property, which is still in lease-up, was 100 percent acquired by HCEPP II.

"Transactions of this size are occurring more and more frequently across Central and Eastern Europe especially after the accession into the European Union. Many international investors and lenders are building portfolios to take advantage of the attractive returns here and in other former Eastern Bloc countries," said Zdenek Valka, Slovak and Czech Republic country manager, Stewart International, s.r.o.

The higher returns, however, come with higher risks associated with the histories of these respective market regions, and land ownership and title related issues are still major challenges yet to be completely resolved, noted Valka. To resolve this tension, investors are turning to companies like Stewart to provide a solution. By working with local law firms and using its 111 years of experience in title search, remediation of title defects and strong underwriting principles, Stewart is able to significantly reduce title risk and provide financial indemnification for remaining title risks, allowing large projects to succeed.

"The title guaranty gives us a greater sense of security," says Dennis M. Dart, senior vice president, director Legal Affairs for Heitman. "In the past, we relied on the opinions of attorneys -- and very good attorneys -- but there are uncertainties and inherent risks of title in Central Europe." Dart explained that with a title guaranty, Stewart was able to assume the risk and provided Heitman's leadership team with peace of mind.

Source: Stewart Information International Inc.



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