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Fannie-Freddie suitor confident on fundraising plan

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 | 1:55 PM ET
Fairholme CEO: American's want progress
Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 | 9:40 AM ET
In an exclusive CNBC interview, David Faber talks with Fairholme Capitol CEO Bruce Berkowitz about their proposal to buy Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for $52 billion. Berkowitz says housing finance is critical to the American dream.

The head of the company that wants to buy parts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's in a $52 billion proposal told CNBC on Thursday he's certain he can raise the money.

"The assets within the companiesthey have tremendous scale, expertise, peoplethere are no other group of assets that can perform the job necessary for American housing," said Bruce Berkowitz, founder and manager of Fairholme Capital Management. "We have the infrastructure. We could have the money. We can make a reasonable return. We don't have to be greedy. We don't have to have federal support."

On Wednesday, Berkowitz announced the proposal to buy the insurance components of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a way to free the bailed-out mortgage giants from U.S. government control. But heavy speculation remains over how federal regulators and lawmakers would receive the plan.

(Read more: Fairholme proposes to buy insurance businesses of Fannie, Freddie)

The proposal seeks to bring in $52 billion worth of new capital. Its recapitalization plan needs to raise about $34.6 billion in exchange for preferred stock, as well as a rights offering from preferred stockholders to fund the rest of the endeavor.

Bruce Berkowitz, founder of Fairholme Capital
Source: Columbia.edu
Bruce Berkowitz, founder of Fairholme Capital

During an appearance Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," Berkowitz did not get into specifics on how he planned to raise the remaining $17.3 billion he needs from preferred stock owners. Asked how he would persuade those stock holders to buy into his plan and about how some owners seemed indifferent toward the proposal, Berkowitz replied: "The other owners we've talked to are very excited about the plan. It's a start. It's a beginning."

(Read more: Happy anniversary: Fund bets big on AIG, Fannie and Freddie)

The federal government seized Fannie and Freddiewhich own about two-thirds of all mortgages in the United Statesduring the peak of the subprime mortgage crisis. Berkowitz's Faireholmewhich holds about $8 billion under management as of Septemberalso placed big bets on AIG and became that bailed-out insurance company's largest shareholder in August.

(Read more: Fairholme Funds sues U.S. over Fannie, Freddie bailout agreement)

Berkowitz said he had not yet talked to federal regulators about the Fannie-Freddie deal.

"When push comes to shove, we get it right," Berkowitz said. "Let's just do it already."


—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street." Reuters contributed to this report.

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