- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Charles “Ed” Haldeman Jr., a former mutual fund executive, will take the helm of Freddie Mac next month, the mortgage finance company said Tuesday.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Haldeman, 60, stepped down as chairman of Boston-based Putnam Investments’ mutual fund unit. He replaces John Koskinen, who has been serving as Freddie Mac’s interim CEO since the March resignation of David Moffett.

The move comes at a critical time for Freddie Mac, which is struggling under the weight of mounting loan defaults and faces uncertainty about its future role in the mortgage industry.

Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae play a vital role in the mortgage market by purchasing loans from lenders and selling them to investors. Together, the companies own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.4 trillion. That’s about half of all U.S home mortgages.

Fearing the companies would go under, the government seized control of Fannie and Freddie last September. Since then, Freddie has tapped nearly $51 billion in government aid to cope with mounting loan defaults, while Fannie has taken about $34 billion.

Morale at Freddie Mac’s headquarters in McLean has been low, especially since the April suicide of the acting chief financial officer, David Kellermann.

In an interview, Mr. Haldeman - who goes by Ed, after his middle name, Edgar - pledged to help employees “feel proud of the company that they work for again and make sure that they know their commitment is recognized and appreciated.”

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has not detailed its plans for how Fannie and Freddie should be structured going forward.

“It’s way to early to make guesses on an exit strategy,” Mr. Haldeman said, adding that he expects a “long and thoughtful debate and discussion” on that issue.

With foreclosures continuing to surge, Fannie’s and Freddie’s goals have shifted over the past year. They are now playing a key role in the Obama administration’s effort to modify or refinance up to 9 million home loans.

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