Having recently agreed to purchase the servicing rights of the FirstPlus Financial portfolio from Western Interstate Bank, Countrywide Home Loans, already a major player in the subprime home-equity sector, could be stepping into high-loan-to-value, said industry sources.

"The fact that they're going to be servicing these loans means they're going to be learning a lot about high-LTV in a very short order," said a home-equity analyst. "If they're planning to do it, this is the way do it. Overnight, they could become a powerful player in the 125-market, and if that were to happen, it would be very important news for the whole 125-industry."

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