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Monday, January 14, 2008

Downey Restates NPAs

by Tanta on 1/14/2008 07:58:00 AM

Or, "The Revenge of SFAS 114." Or, possibly, "KPMG Can Has Accountants." Choose your own subtitle.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Jan 14, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Downey Financial Corp. announced today changes to previously reported levels of non-performing assets. These changes pertain to non-performing asset levels since June 30, 2007.

Rick McGill, President, commented, "As previously reported, we implemented at the beginning of the third quarter of 2007 a borrower retention program to provide qualified borrowers with a cost effective means to change from an option ARM to a less costly financing alternative. We contacted borrowers whose loans were current and we offered them the opportunity to modify their loans into 5-year hybrid ARMs or ARMs with interest rates that adjust annually but do not permit negative amortization. The interest rates associated with these modifications were the same or no less than those rates afforded new borrowers but they were below the interest rates on the original loans. We initially did not consider these modifications of performing loans to be troubled debt restructurings, as the modification was only made to those borrowers who were current with their loan payments and the new interest rate was no less than those offered new borrowers. KPMG LLP, our independent registered public accounting firm, did not object to this assessment during its third quarter review."

Mr. McGill continued, "During December 2007, KPMG advised us that upon further review of the modification program, it was likely the loan modifications should be recorded as troubled debt restructurings. After reassessing our initial analysis, we determined these modified loans should be accounted for as troubled debt restructurings. This conclusion was reached because in the current interpretation of GAAP, especially in the current housing market, there is a rebuttable presumption that if the interest rate is lowered in a loan modification, the modification is deemed to be a troubled debt restructuring unless the modified loan can be proved to be at a market rate of interest based upon new underwriting, including an updated property valuation, credit report and income analysis. We did not perform these additional steps since borrowers who qualified for our retention program were current and we were trying to streamline the process for qualified borrowers to modify their loans at interest rates no less than that being offered to new borrowers. Inasmuch as we chose not to perform these additional measures, we are now required to make this reporting change and, as such, our non- performing assets will increase from what has been previously reported. While periods prior to the third quarter of 2007 are not impacted by this change, it will result in $99 million of loans being classified as non-performing at September 30, 2007."

Brian Cote, Chief Financial Officer, commented, "As required for all loans classified as troubled debt restructurings, loans modified as part of our borrower retention program must now be placed on non-accrual status but interest income will be recognized when paid. If borrowers perform pursuant to the modified loan terms for six months, the loans will be placed back on accrual status and, while still reported as troubled debt restructurings, they will no longer be classified as non-performing assets because the borrower has demonstrated an ability to perform and the interest rate was no less than those afforded new borrowers at the time of the modification."

Mr. Cote further commented, "We believe that when loans modified under our borrower retention program are current, it is relevant to distinguish them from total non-performing assets because, unlike other loans classified as non-performing assets, these loans are effectively performing at interest rates no less than those afforded new borrowers. Accordingly, when performing troubled debt restructurings are excluded from the revised ratio of non- performing assets to total assets, the revised ratio of all other non- performing assets to total assets is not materially different from that previously reported."
The take-away, for those of you unmoved by financial accounting esoterica: KPMG is now conditioned to bark every time it hears "streamlined process." That's progress.

Now we wait to see who else was using Downey's interpretation of "troubled debt restructurings."