Nearly all of Sallie Mae's 275 employees in Lawrence could be working for a new company by the end of the year without ever leaving their work stations.
Sallie Mae confirmed Thursday that it had sold its Lawrence loan-servicing center to a subsidiary of DST Systems Inc., which plans to run the place as a center for servicing mutual funds.
Terms were not disclosed, but DST intends to hire all Sallie Mae employees who want to work for the Kansas City, Mo.-based financial services giant, said Elaine Nelson, vice president for Sallie Mae's Lawrence operations.
This summer, Sallie Mae said it would move its Lawrence operations to Indianapolis and close the center by year's end. That put the 52,000-square-foot building and equipment at 2000 Bluffs Drive on the market, and about 300 workers were told to prepare for layoffs.
In recent months, more than a dozen potential buyers inquired about the building and its 7.2-acre site, but Sallie Mae negotiated only with DST, Nelson said. Finding a home for the employees was the primary concern.
"They're offering current or better wages than people are making here," Nelson said. "It's a Hollywood ending, really."
Jennifer Scoles, a DST spokeswoman, said the company needed space to keep up with its growing business. Through its third quarter, DST handled 65 million shareholder accounts from 231 management companies, she said. Whether the center handles customer service or data management, the former Sallie Mae employees will be welcome additions.
"Assuming as much of that work force as was feasible was one of our objectives," Scoles said.
DST, with more than 9,000 employees around the world, had sales last year of $1.2 billion. It has about 5,500 employees in the Kansas City metro area.