"The assets within the companies—they have tremendous scale, expertise, people—there 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.
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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.
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."
The federal government seized Fannie and Freddie—which own about two-thirds of all mortgages in the United States—during the peak of the subprime mortgage crisis. Berkowitz's Faireholme—which holds about $8 billion under management as of September—also placed big bets on AIG and became that bailed-out insurance company's largest shareholder in August.
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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."