Michael Williams will step down as chief executive of Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance guarantor controlled by US regulators, the company announced.
Williams, who spent 21 years at Fannie Mae and helped guide its transition to government control, will continue as CEO and president until a successor is named. The Washington-based company reported the departure on Tuesday in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
“I decided the time is right to turn over the reins to a new leader,” Williams said in a statement. “As I told our employees today, I am extremely proud of what we have achieved together, and I am confident that they will continue to make a positive difference.”
Williams, 54, became head of Fannie Mae in 2009, soon after mounting loan losses forced the company and its smaller rival, Freddie Mac, into US government conservatorship. US President Barack Obama and members of the US Congress are exploring ways to wind down the two companies.
Since 2008, the companies have been controlled largely by their government regulator, the US Federal Housing Finance Agency, which is charged with conserving their assets and minimizing taxpayer losses.
Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman, 62, announced his departure in October last year. He remains in the job awaiting the appointment of a successor.
Williams took charge of the company well after its heyday. Fannie Mae shares hit an all-time high of US$84 in 2001 before it restated earnings in 2006 to show US$6.3 billion in losses.
Since 2006, home prices have fallen more than a third from their peak and wiped out US$7 trillion in household wealth. The decline has forced Washington policymakers to question the government’s role in mortgage finance and explore ways to wean the industry from its reliance on government guarantees sold by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The mortgage finance guarantors now own or guarantee almost half of all residential mortgages. Combined, they have so far cost taxpayers more than US$153 billion and continue to report losses from failed loans.
In addition to serving as CEO, Williams was Fannie Mae’s chief operating officer from 2005 to 2009.