Should Ally Financial break itself up, Ocwen Financial Corp. and private-equity shops might be interested in Ally's mortgaging servicing arm, Residential Capital, which has mortgage servicing rights of $1.2 billion on mostly impaired loans, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) analysts wrote in a research note last week.
The analysts' commentary comes after earlier reports that Ally was weighing selling some or all of itself due to problems executing a planned $6 billion initial public offering.
KBW said multiple domestic and international finance companies would be interested in various parts of the $183 billion-asset company, which is primarily focused on loans to U.S. car dealers but is also involved in online banking, mortgage lending and servicing and insurance.
Wells Fargo & Co. would be a "likely buyer" of its North American automobile finance business because it is "one of the few large banks" that could afford the estimated $68 billion it would fetch, the analysts added.
KBW speculated that Wells could finance the deal with $55 billion in cash, with most of that raised from selling mortgage-backed securities issued by the government housing agencies. It would raise the rest by issuing debt.
Other buyers potentially "interested in parts" of Ally's marquee lending unit, if "not the whole" unit, could include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Capital One Financial Corp., Huntington Bancshares and U.S. Bancorp, KBW added.
Ally Financial, Chrysler's former auto finance division, is majority owned by the U.S. government after receiving $17 billion in federal assistance in 2008 and 2009. It lost $250 million in the fourth quarter.
For its part, Ally said it has no plans to break itself up.
"The allegations are completely speculative," a spokesperson said in an email last week. "We continue to be squarely focused on putting the legacy mortgage issues behind us and growing our leading auto finance and direct banking franchises.
Wells and other companies mentioned as likely buyers either had no comment or did not immediately return calls from ASR affiliate American Banker.
Still, if the North American auto unit is put up for sale, KBW said only Wells has the wherewithal to buy it. The division earned $2.1 billion on $3.2 billion in revenue in 2011.
CIT Group and other financial firms interested in becoming more "bank-like" would likely be interested in Ally's online bank, which has some $38 billion in deposits and would likely fetch $1 billion, KBW said.