Freddie Mac said today it plans to buy as many as $20 billion in subprime loans as part of a new initiative to help subprime borrowers refinance into more affordable mortgages.

Richard Syron, chief executive of the second-largest U.S. mortgage buyer, said the program, expected to begin in July, would last between two and five years. The GSE has yet to release specific details as to how its current loan purchase program would be modified to allow for the increased buying, although its new offerings are expected to include 40-year fixed-rate mortgages and ARMs with reduced margins and longer fixed-rate periods.

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