CHICAGO - Creating the largest title insurer in the land is never an easy thing, but that is exactly what Fidelity National Title Insurance Group intends to do. Recently it purchased Chicago-based Chicago Title Insurance Group for about $1.2 billion in cash and common stock. The combined group will assume the Fidelity corporate identity, along with the Fidelity National and Chicago Title brand names.

According to a Moody's Investors Service rating report, the firm would become the nation's leading title insurer, based on the combined pro forma 1998 revenues of $3.2 billion, and would control nearly one-third of the total market share for direct title insurance written premiums in the country.

Moody's has placed Fidelity National subsidiaries' Baa3 insurance financial strength ratings on review for a possible upgrade. Apparently neither company has significant leverage at this point, and both have been among the most capable firms in managing their operations for the intense cyclicality of the title-insurance market.