WRAPUP 1-Taxpayers close to breaking even on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac bailout
* Mortgage finance firms to send U.S. Treasury $39.0 billion
* Freddie Mac bailout now profitable, Fannie Mae still short
* Companies cannot escape gov't control even with payments
WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Government-run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America's biggest providers of housing finance, will send the U.S. Treasury $39.0 billion in December, leaving them within a hair of paying back their 2008 bailout.
Freddie Mac said on Thursday it will pay $30.4 billion in dividends after a multibillion-dollar tax-related windfall fueled a record profit in the third quarter.
Its larger sibling and fellow state ward Fannie Mae said it would make an $8.6 billion payment.
When Freddie Mac makes its payment in December, it will have returned all of the $71.3 billion it received in taxpayer aid, and an additional $9 million. Fannie Mae's dividend will leave it about $2.2 billion shy of the $116.1 billion it received.
"We are quickly approaching the point when taxpayers will receive a positive return on their investment in this company," Fannie Mae Chief Executive Tim Mayopoulos told reporters during a conference call. "That's obviously very good news for taxpayers."
By early next year, taxpayers likely will have turned a profit on the $187.5 billion bailout of the two housing finance giants, which own or guarantee about two-thirds of all U.S. home loans.
The two firms' bailout agreements do not provide a way for them to buy back the government's senior preferred shares, which is about $188 billion. So they will not be able to fully repay taxpayers' investments and will continue to make dividend payments as long as they are profitable.
The sizable profits the two companies have enjoyed in recent quarters have led some investors to speculate that they could be spun off again as private firms.
Republican and Democrats in the U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama, however, have all called for replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new housing finance system.
"While I'm always glad when taxpayers see a return on investment, we can't forget that Fannie and Freddie wouldn't be earning one penny today without the government guaranteeing their transactions," Republican Senator Bob Corker said in a statement. "I don't know of any other company in America that gets that kind of deal."
Taking into account a decision to write up nearly $24 billion in tax-related assets, Freddie Mac's net income was $30.5 billion for the period that ended Sept. 30.
But even its pre-tax income of $6.5 billion showed the company on solid footing.
Fannie Mae said rising home prices helped push its net income to $8.7 billion in the third quarter.