Freddie Mac
Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate increased to 4 percent in the week ending Dec. 1. REUTERS

Freddie Mac (OTC: FMCC), the second-largest U.S. mortgage guarantor, confirmed Thursday that it is appointing Donald Layton, the former head of E*Trade Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: ETFC), as its CEO.

Layton will replace CEO Charles Haldeman, who announced his resignation from McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac in October.

I'm pleased that the board was able to attract a private sector leader of Don's caliber, said Haldeman. His capital markets and banking background coupled with his ability to manage large, complex organizations will serve him well as he leads Freddie Mac's 5,000 dedicated employees going forward.

Layton is currently an independent director at American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG), after being appointed by the U.S. Treasury two years ago. He was chairman and CEO of E*Trade from 2008 to 2009 and was also a 29-year veteran of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), before retiring in 2004.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the appointment was imminent on Wednesday.

Don brings strong executive leadership and a deep understanding of financial markets at a pivotal time for Freddie Mac, said Christopher Lynch, Freddie Mac's non-executive chairman.

Fannie and Freddie have together requested more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailouts to pay for 10 percent quarterly dividends they're required to issue. But Fannie said Wednesday it had profit of $2.7 billion in the first quarter, enough to cover its payments, signaling a potential recovery in the market. Freddie Mac has yet to report its first-quarter earnings.

Layton will assume the position on May 21. Shares of Freddie Mac, which are traded off market, were up 0.37 percent to 30.1 cents at Thursday's close.