The companies that insured the $1.4 billion in mortgages that financed the EPIC real estate tax shelter would contribute heavy sums of money under a new plan proposed yesterday for solving the problems of the troubled real estate syndication group.
A group of major holders of EPIC mortgages and mortgage-backed securities came up with the new proposal, which calls for the orderly sale of the 20,000 properties owned by partnerships established by Equity Programs Investment Corp., the centerpiece of the EPIC system.
Most of the partnerships filed for bankruptcy last month after they missed payments on the mortgage debts.
The proposal announced yesterday mirrors an earlier plan developed by the Ticor Mortgage Insurance Co., which has estimated its potential losses at EPIC to be $166 million. The new plan, however, calls for Ticor and the other firms that insured EPIC mortgages to assume much more of the cost of the bailout.
As with the Ticor plan, the new plan calls for the holders of mortgages and mortgage securities to agree to a cut in the interest rate they would receive from the paper. The current average rate on the mortgages and certificates of 13.8 percent would be cut to 9 percent, a statement released by the investors said.
While a court-appointed manager sought to sell the EPIC properties, that 9 percent rate of return would be met through a combination of rental income, sale of unused tax benefits attributable to the properties, and profits from the sale of the properties.
Unlike the Ticor plan, this proposal requires the mortgage insurance companies to make up indefinitely any difference between the amount raised from those sources and the 9 percent minimum payment. Under the Ticor proposal, the mortgage insurer's responsibility to meet any shortfall would decrease after the first year of the workout.
The new plan is designed to protect the balance sheets of the savings and loans and other lenders by enabling them to avoid classifying the mortgages as bad debts, backers of the plan said.
A spokesman for Ticor said the company has not yet seen the plan and therefore had no comment. Francis Pugh, an official with the Maryland Attorney General's office working on the situation, also said he has not seen the plan. The state of Maryland has been appointed conservator of Equity Programs and its parent, Community Savings & Loan, following the disclosure of its financial problems.
Community advanced Equity at least $70 million in funds, but the information released yesterday did not indicate whether the state's position to reclaim those monies would be improved by the new plan. The investors statement did say that the new proposal contemplates the removal of the Maryland conservators from day-to-day responsibility for the partnerships in the bankruptcy proceedings.
David O. Maxwell, chairman of the Federal National Mortgage Association and chairman of the committee of investors that came up with yesterday's plan, said he hopes the plan will "be viewed as a fair and equitable means of resolving the interests of all affected parties." He said the committee has begun to discuss the plan with the other groups involved with EPIC and would release more information about the plan as those talks progressed.
The committee that developed the plan consists of 10 institutions that together hold more than $700 million of EPIC mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Its members include Fannie Mae, Salomon Bros Inc., Baltimore Federal Financial FSA, and PSFS, the Philadelphia-based financial concern that operates as Meritor Savings and Loan in Washington.