Fannie and Freddie CEOs to get up to $6M in pay

Gov't lifts bailout cap for Fannie and Freddie
NEW YORK - December 24, 2009

Fannie's CEO, Michael Williams, and Freddie CEO Charles "Ed" Haldeman Jr. each will receive $900,000 in salary, $3.1 million in deferred payments next year and another $2 million if they meet certain performance goals, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday.

The pay packages were approved by the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie.

Fannie and Freddie, which were seized by regulators in September 2008, have needed $111 billion in taxpayer money to stay afloat, one of the most expensive aftershocks of the financial crisis. News of the chief executives' pay could spark new criticism about the government's numerous bailouts.

Freddie Mac hired Haldeman, a former mutual fund executive, in July. At the time, the company disclosed his annual salary of $900,000 but did not disclose other incentive payments. In September, the company hired a new chief financial officer, Ross Kari, and said his pay package would be worth up to $5.5 million.

Williams, formerly Fannie Mae's chief operating officer, took over as CEO in April after the first government-appointed CEO, Herbert Allison, took a job at the Treasury Department. Williams earned a base salary of $676,000 last year, plus a retention award of $260,000.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide vital liquidity to the mortgage industry by purchasing home loans from lenders and selling them to investors. Together, they own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. That's about half of all mortgages.

Without government aid, the firms could have gone broke, leaving millions of people unable to get a mortgage. And most experts say the price tag for the bailouts will rise and complicate the government's exit strategy.

Though the Obama administration has yet to divulge its long-term plans for the two companies, they are unlikely to return to their former power and influence.

Barclays Capital predicts the companies will need anywhere from $230 billion to $300 billion out of a potential $400 billion lifeline, which the Obama administration expanded from the original $200 billion set last fall.

Most analysts don't expect the money to be returned anytime soon, if ever.

Washington-based Fannie Mae was created in 1938 in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It was privatized 30 years later to limit budget deficits during the Vietnam War. In 1970, the government formed its sibling and competitor McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac.

Gov't lifts bailout cap for Fannie and Freddie

The Obama administration says it is removing the $400 billion financial cap it will provide to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to keep the mortgage giants from failing.

Treasury Department officials said the cap will be replaced with a flexible formula to ensure the companies will have all the government support needed to stand behind the billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities they sell to investors.

Since the financial crisis hit last year, the Fannie and Freddie have received $111 billion in government infusions. While most analysts believe that the companies are unlikely to use the full $400 billion, the administration decided to remove the cap to eliminate any uncertainty about the government's commitments.

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AP Real Estate Reporter Alan Zibel in Washington contributed to this report.

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