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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Countrywide Goes Thrifty

by Tanta on 8/16/2007 07:46:00 AM

Press Release:

CALABASAS, Calif., Aug 16, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Countrywide Financial Corporation (NYSE: CFC) announced today that it has supplemented its funding liquidity position by drawing on an $11.5 billion credit facility. In addition, the Company has accelerated its plans to migrate its mortgage production operations into Countrywide Bank, FSB.

"As we have previously discussed, secondary market demand for non-agency mortgage-backed securities has been disrupted in recent weeks," said David Sambol, President and Chief Operating Officer. "Along with reduced liquidity in the secondary market, funding liquidity for the mortgage industry has also become constrained.

"For many years, Countrywide's liquidity management framework has focused on maintaining a diverse, multi-layered assortment of financing alternatives," said Sambol. "A primary component of this framework is a committed, unsecured credit facility of $11.5 billion provided by a syndicate of 40 of the world's largest banks. In response to widely-reported market conditions, Countrywide has elected to draw upon this entire facility to supplement its funding liquidity position. Over 70 percent of this facility has an existing term greater than four years and the remainder has a term of at least 364 days.

"Countrywide has taken decisive steps which we believe will address the challenges arising in this environment and enable the Company to meet its funding needs and continue growing its franchise. Importantly, in addition to the significant liquidity which we have accessed from our bank lines, the Company's primary strategy going forward is to fund its production through Countrywide Bank, FSB. We are already originating in excess of 70 percent of our total origination volume through the Bank, and expect to accelerate our strategy so that nearly all of our volume will be originated in our Bank by the end of September.

"Furthermore, as a result of lessened liquidity for loans which are not eligible for delivery to the GSEs, Countrywide has materially tightened its underwriting standards for such loans, and, we now expect that 90 percent of the loans we originate will be GSE-eligible or will meet our Bank's investment criteria.

"Our objective is to navigate the difficult conditions in today's market as we complete the transition of our Bank business and funding strategy," Sambol concluded. "With these changes, we believe we are well-positioned to leverage opportunities presented by a consolidating industry."