Fannie Mae CEO Will Step Down

Jan 11, 2012
Originally published on January 11, 2012 9:47 am

Michael J. Williams said he is stepping down as chief executive of the quasi-governmental mortgage giant Fannie Mae. The company made the announcement late last night, saying Williams will wait to step down until the board of directors names a successor.

"I decided the time is right to turn over the reins to a new leader," Williams said in a statement.

Williams took over the helm of the company shortly after a U.S. government takeover. The Financial Times reports his departure comes just months after Ed Haldeman, Freddie Mac's chief executive, announced he was stepping down. The Times reports:

"Both companies last year faced congressional outrage at the size of compensation packages awarded to executives, a perception they were not doing enough to stimulate the moribund US property market, calls that they do more to stem the rising tide of home seizures, and probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding allegedly improper disclosures to investors.

"More than three years after both companies were taken over, the Obama administration has yet to detail how it will restructure the way home loans are financed in the US or the future role of Fannie and Freddie.

"Executives have said they were bothered by the lack of direction regarding the companies' future, and argued that the political climate made it difficult to retain talented employees."

The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2011, Williams had a base salary of $900,000 "with deferred and bonus pay worth up to $6 million." Yet the firms have lost money to the tune of $151 billion since the government takeover in 2008.

The Journal points out that Williams' resignation, however, leaves the government scrambling for a replacement at a crucial time, especially because the government believes the housing market is "a key obstacle to an economic recovery."

In its press release Fannie Mae pointed out the firm's accomplishments:

"Under Williams' leadership, Fannie Mae has enabled approximately six million households to refinance into a lower cost mortgage, 1.7 million homeowners to purchase a home and provided financing for nearly one million units of quality, affordable rental housing. The company has built a strong new book of business. This new book, which consists of loans purchased or guaranteed since January 2009, is nearly 50 percent of the company's overall book of business. Through its loss mitigation efforts, nearly one million homeowners have avoided foreclosure, while Fannie Mae has helped to stabilize neighborhoods and reduce credit losses on its legacy (pre-2009) book of business."

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