Freddie Mac is looking for a new chief executive officer, and an additional $30 billion to $35 billion in government purchases of the company’s preferred stock.
David Moffett, the former U.S. Bancorp executive who was named to lead the company in September after it was placed in government conservatorship, is resigning the job to "return to a role in the financial services sector."
The company’s board of directors is working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to appoint a successor to Moffett, and will name an interim CEO by March 13 — the latest date Moffett has set for his departure, Freddie Mac said.
A Freddie Mac spokesman said Moffett was not asked to resign by FHFA or the Obama administration. The company’s board will lead the process of selecting a new CEO, he said, working closely with FHFA and with final selection subject to approval by its regulator.
Freddie Mac said it also expects FHFA will ask the Treasury Department to purchase an additional $30 billion to $35 billion in company preferred stock, under an agreement that allows the government to invest a total of $400 billion in Freddie and sister company Fannie Mae.
The investments are a backstop against losses that allow Fannie and Freddie to continue purchasing and guaranteeing mortgages. So far, the government has purchased $13.8 billion in Freddie Mac preferred shares, and plans to invest $15.2 billion in Fannie Mae to help the company cover a recently declared $25.2 billion fourth-quarter loss.
Freddie Mac says it expects FHFA will request an additional $30 billion to $35 billion in government investment after the company files its annual report, which would bring the government’s total investment in the two companies to date to about $64 billion.
Although Fannie and Freddie have tapped only a fraction of the capital available to them, the Obama administration last month upped the government’s commitment to the companies from $100 billion each to $200 billion, or $400 billion total.
The move was intended to keep mortgage rates down, by signalling the government’s commitment to stand behind Fannie and Freddie and the companies’ guarantees to investors who finance loans through purchases of mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
Although some loans are too large or risky for Fannie and Freddie to purchase or guarantee, rates on conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have been hovering at record lows for weeks, as investors continue to see the companies’ MBS as a safe investment.
Fannie and Freddie are a key component of the Obama administration’s plan to help as many as 9 million borrowers avoid foreclosure through loan modifications and refinancings. The plan counts on Fannie and Freddie refinancing 4 million to 5 million loans in which borrowers have seen their equity shrink to less than 20 percent because of falling home prices (see story).
Shortly after they were named to head the companies, Moffett and Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Herb Allison took to the stage with FHFA Director James Lockhart at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention.
Moffett and Allison said the companies would shift their emphasis from earning the maximum return for investors to pricing their loan guarantees to provide maximum liquidity to mortgage markets (see story).
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