Waterfield Mortgage Co. has signed a strategic alliance with Fannie Mae in which the lender will sell virtually all of its conforming loans to the nation's largest source of financing for home mortgages. The agreement also means that Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Waterfield will be included in testing Desktop Underwriter Improvements and Fannie Mae pilot programs. Waterfield and Fannie Mae will be working on initiatives to combine Waterfield's state-of-the-art paperless processing technologies with Fannie Mae's technology initiatives to better serve customers.

Merrill Lynch & Co. is preparing to enter the 144A private placement market with TCW Group Inc. in the first mortgage collateralized bond obligation linked to a mortgage index, rather than priced from LIBOR.

"This deal is definitely in the works, but we cannot discuss it at this time due to its private nature," said Ken Hackel, from the MBS department at Merrill Lynch.

The $1 billion sale is expected to take place in several weeks and part of it will involve a "basis swap," in which TCW pays its investors based on the total return of the Merrill Lynch Mortgage Master Index. To cover the CBO, TCW will be allowed to invest in mortgage securities with longer durations - about two to four years - than most market-value mortgage CBOs.

"I think that is great," said Lisa Brown Premo, head portfolio manager at First Union, when asked about the structure. "In my business the way to go forward is to raise money and get a spread on it, and that is what [Merrill] is trying to do."

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced last week the appointment of Todd R. Howe as staff vice president, corporate relations and membership. Howe previously served as Secretary Andrew Cuomo's Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will begin his tenure with MBA at the end of September, with the exact date to be determined.

Subscribe Now

Access to a full range of industry content, analysis and expert commentary.

30-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Access coverage of the securitization marketplace, including breaking news updated throughout the day.