UBS Settles With U.S. Housing Finance Regulator, Over Mortgage-Backed Bonds

 @natrudy
on July 22 2013 8:47 AM

This story has been updated.

Swiss bank UBS AG (ADR) (NYSE:UBS) has settled a dispute over mortgage-backed bonds sold between 2004 and 2007 with the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

UBS didn’t disclose the amount of the fine but said in a news release on Monday morning that it expected its upcoming quarterly results to be affected by a pretax litigation charge of 865 million Swiss francs ($920.9 million).

Of that total, about 700 million francs is related to UBS’ so-called corporate center, which helped contribute to UBS’ investment banking business, which in turn played a role in UBS’ need for a Swiss government bailout in 2008, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“There is an agreement in principle, but nothing is final,” said a FHFA spokesperson to the International Business Times. She declined to provide any further information.

UBS’ dispute with the agency, about which it alerted shareholders in the third quarter of 2011, is one case from a group of cases filed by the agency against 18 banks in relation to residential mortgage-backed securities.

UBS has also paid for the litigation in previous quarters, besides encompassing it in its second-quarter financials, which will be made public on July 30.

According to a Federal Housing Finance Agency news release from early July, the agency helped prevent more than 130,000 foreclosures in early 2013, via Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  

Mediobanca analyst Chris Wheeler told the Journal that the settlement is positive insofar as it takes another piece of litigation off UBS’ plate. 

The bank paid 378 million francs in legal and regulatory costs in the first quarter of 2013, according to SEC filings.

The bank expects legal and regulatory costs to remain high during 2013 because the bank remains exposed to claims arising out of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, and because of the “current regulatory and political climate affecting financial institutions,” the bank said in its first-quarter-results statement.

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