Fannie Mae said on Thursday that it would draw another $15bn of funds from the US Treasury after a ninth consecutive quarterly loss – $19.8bn in the third quarter – drove its net worth below zero.
The loss at the government-run mortgage financier was largely due to $22bn of credit expenses as the company built its loss reserves against mounting mortgage defaults.
Fannie also incurred losses from modifying the terms of mortgages for struggling borrowers under the government’s housing market rescue plan.
Fannie’s third-quarter net loss of $3.47 a share forced it to request its fourth instalment from a $200bn federal lifeline established for Fannie and rival Freddie Mac, the mortgage financier said in a filing. The rescue funds will bring the Treasury’s ownership of senior preferred stock in Fannie Mae to a total of $60.9bn.
Fannie is in talks to sell about half of a $5.2bn portfolio of low income housing tax credits to third party investors in an effort to improve its financial position, the company said on Thursday. Those investors, which according to people familiar with the talks include Goldman Sachs, would receive the benefit of the tax credits for a limited time before they would revert to Fannie Mae.
The company’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said on Thursday in a statement that the possible transfer of a portion of Fannie’s tax credits was “consistent with FHFA’s ongoing efforts to conserve enterprise assets and with the enterprise’s multi-family housing mission”.
However, the deal is unlikely to be approved by the Treasury, according to people familiar with the matter, as officials have been studying the implications for overall tax receipts rather than simply the effects on Fannie Mae.
The credits are currently worth little in Fannie Mae’s hands because the company has no taxable income, but investors could use them to offset their tax burdens.
Fannie currently records losses each quarter as the value of the tax credits declines.
If the transaction is blocked by the US Treasury, Fannie said it would write down the portfolio to zero, reflecting its inability to sell or transfer the credits for value.
The Treasury’s safety net for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was established when the companies were put under government supervision in September 2008.
The government made an initial $1bn purchase of preferred stock and related warrants in the companies and said it would buy up to $100bn of preferred shares in each company to maintain their positive net worth.
Fannie said in its filing on Thursday that it expected more red ink in future quarters, and would therefore need to obtain further funding from the US Treasury.