WASHINGTON -- Bailed-out housing finance giant Fannie Mae said Thursday it would pay the U.S. government $59.4 billion after posting a record profit for the first three months of the year.
The fortunes of the company, which is 80% owned by taxpayers after being seized in 2008, have been lifted by the recovery in the housing market.
Fannie Mae reported an $8.1-billion profit for the January-March period, the best performance in its history, compared with a $2.7-billion profit a year earlier.
As the value of the mortgages it owns or backs have increased, Fannie Mae's bottom line has improved. Last month the company reported a record $17.2-billion annual profit for 2012.
Fannie Mae also has been able to recalculate the tax write-downs it can take on its assets, which have added to the company's value. Under the bailout agreement, Fannie Mae must pay dividends to the U.S. Treasury based on its net worth.
As of March 30, the company had received about $117 billion in taxpayer money. With the $59.4 billion payment, to be made by June 30, Fannie Mae will have paid the Treasury $95 billion in dividends.
Under the terms of the bailout, the dividend payments do not not pay down what Fannie Mae owes. But the money helps offset the cost of the rescue and could help delay when the nation must raise the debt limit.
Sibling housing-finance firm Freddie Mac also was seized in 2008 and its finances have rebounded as well. On Wednesday, the company reported a $4.6-billion first-quarter profit, the second-best in its history.
Freddie Mac said it would pay $7 billion in required dividends to the Treasury next month and could make a larger payment based on its own recalculation of tax write-downs.
Freddie Mac has received about $72 billion in bailout money and with the upcoming dividend payment will have sent about $37 billion back to taxpayers.
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