Mercury Finance: Even Power Steering May Not Turn It Around

Can rescue artist William Brandt save the auto lender?

While sitting in a Boca Raton (Fla.) hotel room a year ago trying to restructure a bankrupt used-car lender, William A. Brandt Jr. marveled at the earnings growth and modest loan losses of industry powerhouse Mercury Finance Co. Just as competition was heating up and risks seemed to be rising, "their ability to control their losses was better than the industry by a ton," recalls Brandt. "We were wondering how they did it."

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