UPDATE 3-US considers Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac takeover-NYT

viernes 11 de julio de 2008 11:41 CEST

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By Kevin Plumberg

HONG KONG, July 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. government is considering taking over mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if their funding problems worsen, in a plan that could leave shareholders nothing, the New York Times reported, citing people briefed on the matter.

Fannie FNM.N and Freddie FRE.N, government-sponsored entities that have an implicit backing of Washington, have been under fire this week as investors questioned the companies' ability to raise enough capital to stay afloat.

Shares in the companies fell on Thursday to their lowest levels since 1991.

The New York Times said the government was considering placing the companies into conservatorship, under which the shares would be worth little or nothing, and the losses on the home loans they own or guarantee -- what amounts to half of all U.S. mortgages -- would be paid by U.S. taxpayers.

Officials involved in the discussions stressed that no action by the administration was imminent, and that Fannie and Freddie were not considered to be in crisis, the newspaper said on its website late on Thursday.

A spokesman for Freddie Mac declined to comment. Fannie Mae and U.S. officials could not be reached for comment.

The fate of Fannie and Freddie has ramifications far outside of the United States. U.S. agency debt and agency-issued mortgage bonds held by foreign central banks -- many of whom are located in Asia -- swelled by $9 billion in the last week, totalling a record $978.98 billion, up 18 percent so far this year.   Continuación...