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UPDATE 1-Fannie Mae profits push taxpayers into black on housing bailout

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Fannie Mae said on Friday it would soon send the U.S. Treasury $7.2 billion, a profit-related dividend that makes taxpayers whole for the 2008 bailout of the mortgage-finance giant and its sibling company Freddie Mac.

But unlike other companies rescued by taxpayers during the financial crisis, the firms will remain under government control until Congress winds them down or replaces them.

The bailout terms for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac force them to turn over their profits to the Treasury in the form of dividends on the controlling stake the government took when it bailed them out. They cannot repurchase the government's share.

In announcing the payment, Fannie Mae said it posted net income of $6.5 billion for the three-month period that ended Dec. 31. It was the company's eighth straight quarterly profit.

For 2013 as a whole, its net income was a record $84.0 billion, helped by a recovery in the housing market and some tax-related windfalls. That compares to its previous record profit of $17.2 billion a year earlier.

"While Fannie Mae expects to be profitable for the foreseeable future, the company does not expect to repeat its 2013 financial results," the company said in a press release.

Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last year benefited from a recovering market that lifted prices and kept a lid on loan defaults. Their return to profitability also allowed them to reverse write-downs of certain tax-related assets, which led to large one-time windfalls.

The duo, which own or guarantee 60 percent of all U.S. home loans, were seized by the government as mortgage losses threatened their solvency.

Officials felt they could not let the companies collapse because their role, providing liquidity to the mortgage market by buying loans from lenders and repackaging them as securities for investors, was too important. They also feared a failure to honor the guarantees they made on loans would lead to an even deeper crisis.

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