Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

May 8, 2014

Reiss on Bloomberg Terminals regarding GSE Litigation

By David Reiss

I was quoted on the Bloomberg Terminals (behind a very expensive paywall!) on May 6th about the Fannie and Freddie litigation:

Even if the Junior Preferred Shareholders get the Court to void the Third Amendment to the PSPA, they cannot force the companies to issue dividends so that shareholders receive a payoff. And if the government were to lower the guarantee fee that the two companies can charge or if it were to remove the government’s guarantee of the two companies, Fannie and Freddie’s profits would dissipate altogether.

Given that junior preferred shareholders have developed a multi-pronged strategy to squeeze as much value out of their shares as possible, it is worth attempting to determine the possible endgames that they have in mind. It is hard for me to identify a litigation outcome that results in money in their pockets for the reasons stated above. So the litigation strategy must be part of a broader strategy that involves lobbying over housing finance reform in Congress, lobbying the FHFA and other regulators or negotiating with the two companies. Given the amount of money at stake and the depth of the pockets of the junior preferred shareholders, one can imagine that they are playing a very long-term game, one that might last longer than all of the current decision-makers in DC right now. Some disputes arising out of the S&L crisis took many, many years to resolve so there is reason to think that the junior preferred shareholders have a multi-year or even decades-long perspective on this. And the farther away we are from the events of the 2000s and the emotions that they elicit from decisionmakers, the more likely it is that the junior preferred shareholders can negotiate a favorable result for themselves.

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