GMAC Financial Services has written down the value of the riskiest mortgage assets of its mortgage division by 41%, a move that could be a precursor to a sale of the unit.

To date, GMAC has declined to comment on reports that Berkshire Hathaway has shown an interest in Residential Capital Corp. (ResCap), the nation's fourth largest home lender. (Berkshire also has declined to comment.) The risky mortgage assets that were marked down by 41% once had a face value of $9.2 billion.

Company executives said the markdowns came as a way to make these assets attractive to buyers.

"The values we have put on these assets would be sellable in the market," said GMAC chief of mortgage operations Thomas Marano. He noted GMAC sells loans on a regular basis and major capital market players have been consulted.

"Yes we do believe we can sell those assets in the market," he added in response to an analyst's question. The writedowns, restructuring and recapitalization of ResCap leave the entity with $19.7 billion in mortgage assets, servicing rights and real estate owned.

GMAC chief executive Michael Carpenter noted there are "potentially different strategic alternatives" for the mortgage assets and the servicing business. He also said ResCap can be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary for some time.

"We are not in a hurry to do anything." GMAC noted that it will take $3.8 billion of mortgage-related charges for the fourth quarter. GMAC said ResCap owns $4.3 billion in assets that have "greater economic exposure."

According to the Quarterly Data Report, ResCap ranks fifth among all residential servicers with $380 billion in servicing rights. To date, the government has pumped $15.1 billion of capital into GMAC through preferred stock and other maneuvers.

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