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FHFA Appoints New Fannie and Freddie Chairmen

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The government yesterday appointed the former chief executive of one of the nation's largest accounting firms to chair the board of Fannie Mae and a turnaround specialist to chair the board of Freddie Mac.

The newly created Federal Housing Finance Agency named Philip A. Laskawy non-executive chairman of Fannie Mae and John A. Koskinen non-executive chairman of Freddie Mac. The government removed the chief executives and chairmen of the mortgage giants on Sept. 7 when it put the companies in conservatorship.

FHFA and its director, James B. Lockhart III, have yet to describe the future makeup of the boards of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While companies in conservatorship do not need directors, Lockhart has said that he believes they are important for good corporate governance. Laskawy and Koskinen will report to Lockhart.

Corinne Russell, a spokeswoman for FHFA, said that the board will play the normal roles of a corporate board, including overseeing compensation, audits and governance, but that FHFA has "significant authority to review compensation agreements."

Laskawy spent 40 years at Ernst & Young, serving as its chief executive from 1994 until 2001. He then spent a year as chairman of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation, the global accounting body. Laskawy is on the boards of directors of General Motors, Henry Schein, Lazard and Lowes.

Koskinen was chief executive of the Palmieri Co., a consulting firm, from 1979 to 1993, where he helped turn around Penn Central Transportation and Mutual Benefit Life Insurance. He was president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, deputy mayor and city administrator of the District under Mayor Anthony A. Williams, and deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton. Koskinen is on the boards of Arlington-based AES and Bethesda-based American Capital.

"Both of these individuals have the types of skills and experience needed to ensure a healthy financial future for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Lockhart said in a statement.

Former Freddie Mac chief executive Richard F. Syron also was chairman of the company's board, a dual title that the government had pressed him to abandon. The former chairman of Fannie Mae is Stephen B. Ashley, who took on that role in 2004 when the board separated the jobs of chairman and chief executive.

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