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Bill Ackman Comments on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

- By Holly LaFon

Fannie (FNMA) and Freddie (FMCC)'s underlying earnings progressed modestly in the second quarter as their core mortgage guarantee businesses improved due to an increase in the guarantee-fee rate and lower credit costs. Their non-core investment portfolios continued to be reduced, which is leading them to a safer and more capital-light business model. As in recent quarters, reported earnings remained volatile due to non-cash-accounting-based derivative losses in the non-core investment portfolio. As a result of the derivative losses and the continued Net Worth Sweep, the companies remain at risk of being required to draw capital from the Treasury, as a result of the requirement to pay dividends to Treasury under the Net Worth Sweep of more than $125 billion in excess of the original 10% dividend agreement. As the risk of capital draws from the Treasury increases, we believe that Congress will become increasingly focused on seeking a permanent resolution for Fannie and Freddie.


In the litigation, the government recently released additional documents which further support shareholder claims From the documents, it is clear that high-level government officials were aware that the GSEs were expecting to become highly profitable just prior to the implementation of the Net Worth Sweep, which runs contrary to the government's contemporaneous public statements that the GSEs were in a "death spiral." In fact, private emails of key government officials show that the government intended to implement the Net Worth Sweep as a measure to prevent the GSEs from recapitalizing themselves and exiting conservatorship. Both of these points directly contradict key claims the government made on and after implementing the Net Worth Sweep and as a defense to the litigation. In addition, the courts rejected the government's request to have individual lawsuits consolidated as a multi-district litigation and sent to Judge Lamberth. This allows each case to continue to proceed separately and be evaluated on its individual merits, which improves the likelihood of a favorable legal outcome for shareholders.

We believe a new administration, which did not implement the Net Worth Sweep, will be more conducive to implementing a sensible resolution for Fannie and Freddie which benefits all stakeholders including tax payers, home owners and shareholders.

From Bill Ackman (Trades, Portfolio)'s mid-year 2016 letter.
This article first appeared on GuruFocus.