Shares of Fannie Mae were up 41% to close at $2.97, while Freddie Mac was also up 41% to close at $2.81, after Ralph Nader in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal said the two companies' common shareholders should fight against the federal government's "great Fannie and Freddie rip-off.".
The two mortgage giants together are known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, and were taken under government conservatorship in September 2008.
As part of its bailout agreements with Fannie and Freddie, the government was handed warrants to purchase just under 80% of the common shares of the two GSEs at a strike price of $0.00001 per share."The zombie common shareholders have no rights or remedies against Fannie and Freddie, both operationally active companies, or their regulator--the Federal Housing Finance Agency," Nader wrote. "FHFA ordered the Fannie and Freddie boards and executives to suspend communications with shareholders and abolish the annual stockholders meeting." With the Obama administration expected soon to offer a proposal for the future of Fannie and Freddie, Nader wrote that "the common shareholders of Fannie and Freddie need to organize and make their voices heard in Washington. Clearly, they should have a say in how Fannie and Freddie are managed--in the board room and in Congress--from here onward."
GSEs Ladle Senior Preferred Government GravyAs part of the massive bailout of the GSEs, the U.S. Treasury holds $117.1 billion in Fannie Mae senior preferred shares and $72.3 billion in Freddie Mac senior preferred shares. After determining it would be able to recapture most of its valuation allowance for deferred tax assets (DTA) at the end of the first quarter, Fannie Mae announced on May 9 that it would pay the Treasury a second-quarter dividend of $59.5 billion. Freddie Mac announced on May 8 that it would pay a dividend of $7 billion to the Treasury in June. Following the announced June dividend payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government will have received dividends totaling $131.6 billion on its combined GSE preferred investment of $189.4 billion. That's a pretty fat return on investment. To put that in terms of an annualized dividend yield using a conservative back-of-the envelope calculation, dividends totaling $131.6 billion on an investment of $189.4 billion over a period of five years, would equal a dividend yield of 13.90%. The government's yield on the bailout is actually higher, since the senior preferred investments grew over a period of several years. Then there's the amazing potential return on the common-share warrants. Meanwhile, there is still no mechanism for either GSE to repurchase any government-held preferred stock.
What's Good for the Common is Good for the Junior PreferredDividend payments on junior preferred shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were suspended when the GSEs were taken under conservatorship in September 2008, instantly sinking in price to pennies on the dollar.
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