Update: IndyMac Sale Nears; Potential Suitors Emerge

(Update 1: reflects Dec. 26th report) IndyMac Federal Bank, seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in mid-July, will be sold before the end of this year, according to multiple reports Monday citing unnamed sources. The news follows accounts, which began to surface last Tuesday evening, that officials were ready to announce a sale. The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter website was the first to suggest that IndyMac might be sold to a private equity buyer, fingering Dune Capital Management as a buyer on Dec. 26. While FDIC spokesman David Barr declined to comment on the sale, according to a Bloomberg report, he said Monday that an announcement about IndyMac will be made by year-end. Bids to purchase the Pasadena-based bank were due by Dec. 15; the FDIC has been taking bids for months now. There is speculation that the bank will be sold to a conglomerate of private equity and hedge fund firms, according to people briefed on the matter, The New York Times reported. The buyers could include private equity firms J.C. Flowers & Company along with the aforementioned Dune Capital Management — founded in 2004 by ex-Goldman Sachs partners Steven Mnuchin and Daniel Niedich — as well as the hedge fund firm Paulson & Company, according to the report. The potential deal would be one of the first transactions under loosened regulations that now allow private equity firms and hedge funds to acquire pieces of bank holding companies, free from certain regulations — regulations that once required private firms that held more that 24.9 percent of a bank to register as a bank holding company. In a separate report Monday, Bloomberg suggested potential bidders may include U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. And while it’s highly likely the bank will be sold off in parts, one source has suggested its possible that a single buyer may still emerge. The sale of the bank — which would include 33 branches, a reverse-mortgage unit and $176 billion loan-servicing portfolio — may prove that FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair’s program to re-work delinquent home loans is an attractive selling point. For Bair, the sale of IndyMac’s servicing portfolio might be something of a bittersweet outcome; the FDIC’s aggressive management of troubled loans on the Alt-A lending giants servicing books has propelled her into the national spotlight and into the center of the debate over how to best manage a growing number of troubled mortgages. She has called for aggressive modification programs, most recently asking for the U.S. Treasury to use funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program to insure redefault risk on mortgages modified under a mass-modification program she had instituted at IndyMac. Time will tell — from the looks of it, sooner rather than later.  The Wall Street Journal reported Monday morning “an announcement could come as soon as Monday.” Write to Kelly Curran at kelly.curran@housingwire.com. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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