Friday, August 29, 2008

10 Cents on the Dollar....,

Is what Fannie and Freddie stock has fallen to. Lots of investors worldwide must be mighty, mighty displeased.
Fannie Mae’s workers had $116 million in the employee stock ownership plan at the end of 2006. Today, it’s more like $17.5 million. Ouch.

The employees of Fannie Mae, and those of its counterpart Freddie Mac, are reeling from financial blows themselves as the mortgage finance companies lurch toward what could be a government bailout. Both firms ladled out hefty servings of stocks and options to reward and compensate employees — making them popular employers for years.

The top executive of Freddie Mac, Richard F. Syron, for instance, made about $18.3 million last year, two-thirds of that in stock and options that are worth a lot less today. His counterpart at Fannie Mae, Daniel H. Mudd, made $11.6 million, also much of it in stock.

But midlevel employees were paid in stock, too. Stock and options could account for a fifth of their total compensation, according to former employees and financial planners. Their ability to sell and diversify was often limited by restrictions on the grants, the terms of the specific plans and tighter rules on selling by employees while they addressed years-earlier accounting scandals.

For decades, both companies offered lush benefits, with traditional pension plans, 401(k)s, stock plans and other niceties, like child care plans. That means many employees still have a safety net, though their savings have declined, drastically in some cases.

“If it can happen to Fannie or Freddie, it can happen anywhere,” said Marjorie L. Fox, a certified financial planner in Reston, Va. “This is a cautionary tale you better pay attention to.”