Ocwen Financial is in the lead to buy a portfolio of mortgage-collection rights from Ally Bank worth about $1 billion, three people familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The deal would help Ally, the bailed-out auto lender that is 74 percent owned by the U.S. government, raise money to pay back taxpayers. For Ocwen, the purchase would further fuel its explosive growth. The company's servicing portfolio has increased in size by more than six times since 2009, according to Compass Point Research & Trading.

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