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More layoffs planned at mortgage firms

SHARE More layoffs planned at mortgage firms

NEW YORK — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and National City Corp. said Thursday more than 2,000 workers will be laid off as the banks scale back their struggling mortgage businesses.

The moves represent just the latest wave of layoffs in the mortgage industry, which is suffering from decaying credit quality, slipping home prices and a drainage of demand among investors and banks for home loans.

The Wall Street brokerage is laying off 850 people, closing its Korean mortgage business and folding its businesses in the U.S., Japan and Europe into a single unit called Lehman Mortgage Capital. National City, which is based in Cleveland, said laying off 1,300 workers

Also on Thursday, Countrywide Financial Corp. shares dropped below $18 before closing the trading session at $18.48 — wiping out nearly all of the $700 million paper profit Bank of America Corp. made when it invested $2 billion in the nation's biggest mortgage lender two weeks ago.

Bank of America's preferred shares are convertible at any time, though once exchanged for common stock they will be subject to trading restrictions for 18 months.

Subprime fallout also apparently led to H&R Block Inc. shareholders electing hedge-fund manager Richard Breeden to the board, putting more pressure on the company to shut its subprime mortgage unit and divest others not tied to the business of preparing tax returns.