Intercontinental Exchange to Acquire Ellie Mae for $11 Billion

August 12, 2020

In a move to build out its end-to-end electronic mortgage workflow solution, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) will acquire cloud-based loan origination software provider Ellie Mae from Thoma Bravo for $11 billion.

Including past acquisitions of both MERSCORP Holdings and Simplifile and, upon completion of the deal for Ellie Mae, ICE will have invested roughly $11.5 billion in its strategy to automate the mortgage process. The transaction, which is not subject to a financing condition, is expected to close in the third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2020, following regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

“Twenty years after we founded Intercontinental Exchange to provide a transparent trading platform for the energy industry, and following two decades of providing continued innovation to help customers navigate global markets, we are pleased to announce the acquisition of Ellie Mae, which will help us similarly transform the mortgage marketplace,” said Jeffrey C. Sprecher, founder, chairman and CEO of ICE. “Our planned acquisition represents a one-of-a-kind opportunity to add an extraordinary enterprise with great leadership to our family. It will also enhance ICE’s growth strategy in mortgage technology, with complementary products and a wide array of customers and stakeholders who will benefit from our core and proven expertise in operating networks and marketplaces.”

ICE, which also owns the New York Stock Exchange, started making its push in the mortgage space by obtaining a majority stake in Merscorp Holdings (owner of the Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems) in 2016 and completely taking over the company in 2018. Then in 2019, ICE bought Simplifile for $335 million, doubling down on its bet of a significant digital transformation across the U.S. mortgage industry.

MERS was created in 1995 (ALTA was an originating shareholder) to track transfers in the ownership and servicing rights of mortgage notes. It has been reported that ICE has migrated MERS’ records to its high-security data center in New Jersey where the NYSE matches deals between microsecond-speed stock traders. Back when ICE purchased MERS, some technology experts said the long-term play could be to create a New York Stock Exchange for mortgages. Registration of eNotes with MERS continues to spike in 2020. July saw a record 40,170 eNotes registered with MERS. This compares to less than 10,000 eNotes registered during July 2019.

The entire production chain of the mortgage industry, from lead generation to application, to pre-closing, to closing, to post-closing, has traditionally been a highly document-centric and manual process. ICE’s acquisition of MERS and Simplifile has helped to automate the post-closing process. The addition of Ellie Mae extends ICE’s reach to the origination space.

California-based Ellie Mae was founded in 1997 and has 1,700 employees. It provides technology services to participants in the mortgage supply chain, including its over 3,000 customers and thousands of partners and investors. Lenders rely on Ellie Mae to securely manage and facilitate the exchange of data across the ecosystem to enable the origination of mortgages. Ellie Mae announced a partnership in 2019 with ALTA’s Title & Settlement Agent Registry to enhance security through improved vendor identification. Thoma Bravo acquired Ellie Mae in April 2019 for just $3.7 billion.

Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae, is excited to join the ICE family and the opportunity to work with Simplifile and MERS to help push the industry toward a true digital mortgage.

“We have been on a journey, as we have long said, ‘to automate everything automatable’ for the mortgage industry, and joining ICE, which has followed a parallel journey in global exchanges, will allow us to further accelerate realizing our vision,” he said.

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