UPDATE 2-Fannie Mae, Freddie need less gov't funding -regulator

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to require less taxpayer aid and may be able to stop tapping government coffers as early as next year, the U.S. housing regulator said on Friday, partly because the health of the bailed-out companies has improved.

The government-controlled companies, which buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them as securities for investors, are expected to draw between $191 billion and $209 billion from the U.S. Treasury by the end of 2015, the regulator said.

That is lower than the previous projection of between $220 billion and $311 billion by the end of 2014, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a statement.

``Substantially'' better than expected financial results helped brighten the outlook for the companies, which have drawn a total of $188 billion in taxpayer funds to stay afloat since they were taken over in 2008.

Also, the Obama administration scrapped the 10 percent dividend payment the companies were required to pay the Treasury as part of their original bailout contract. The government-controlled companies sometimes had to borrow money from the Treasury to make the payment.

So far, the companies have paid back more than $45 billion in dividends.