- - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FANNIE MAE

CEO in charge after takeover to quit

The executive who was appointed to lead mortgage giant Fannie Mae in 2009 after the federal government seized the company plans to step down as its CEO.

Michael J. Williams announced Tuesday he will continue as CEO and as a director until a successor is found.


“I decided the time is right to turn over the reins to a new leader,” he said in a statement. Mr. Williams, 53, has been a Fannie employee since 1991.

The government rescued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 after the two mortgage firms absorbed huge losses on risky loans that threatened to topple them.

Since then, a government regulator has controlled the two firms’ financial decisions. Pressure has been building for the government to eliminate or transform the two companies and reduce taxpayers’ exposure to further losses.

So far, Fannie and Freddie have cost taxpayers more than $150 billion — the largest bailout of the financial crisis. They could end up costing up to $259 billion, according to their government regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Mr. Williams oversaw the restructuring of Fannie’s foreclosure-prevention efforts and managed the troubled firm’s reorganization and transition to conservatorship.

Freddie’s CEO, Charles E. “Ed” Haldeman Jr., announced in October that he would resign within the next year.

The departures amount to the biggest leadership shakeup for the agencies since their takeover.

Mr. Williams, Mr. Haldeman and other Fannie and Freddie executives faced intense questioning on Capitol Hill in November over tens of millions of bonuses and compensation they had received since 2009. Twelve executives at the firms received roughly $35.4 million in total salary and bonuses in 2009 and 2010. Mr. Williams earned about $9.3 million for the two years.

Members of Congress are seeking to end those bonuses and align salaries with those of other federal employees who earn much less.

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