By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The nation’s top housing regulator said on Wednesday that he hopes to hire an outside financial adviser by next month to help the government devise a plan to remove mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie from government conservatorship.
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria said he expects the adviser to help the regulator assess plans to overhaul Fannie and Freddie’s capital structure and raise billions of dollars in new cash.
He added that he also expects Fannie and Freddie to hire their own advisers ahead of potentially massive initial public offerings or other capital raisings that could prove to be a big payday for Wall Street firms that win the mandate.
“Fannie and Freddie will be the ones raising capital, but how do we allow them to set that path and how do we make sure that what they come up with as suggestions to raise capital are doable?” said Calabria at an event in Washington. “My expectation is that Fannie and Freddie are going to be able to get their own financial advisers, and we can start to work.”
The FHFA earlier this month posted a solicitation for an outsider adviser, and applications were due Wednesday. Calabria said the adviser will help the regulator assess capital plans put forward by Fannie and Freddie.
The pair, which guarantee more than half of the nation’s mortgages, have operated under a government conservatorship since being bailed out by taxpayers in 2008. The Trump administration has renewed efforts to release the pair from government control, issuing a report in September calling for them to be recapitalized and released.
Calabria on Wednesday emphasized that the pair will not be allowed to escape government control without raising a significant amount of capital. To that end, Calabria said he expects to announce in the coming weeks whether the FHFA will re-propose a rule outlining capital requirements for the pair. Analysts expect that regulation must be finalized before the pair could realistically exit.
“If Fannie and Freddie aren’t able to leave, then they don’t leave. Quite simply they have to be ready to get out,” said Calabria.
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