The Countrywide Legacy: The BofA Put
A group of bondholders wrote a letter to Bank of America and Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the debt’s trustee, citing alleged failures by Countrywide to service loans properly, their lawyer said yesterday in a statement that didn’t name the firms. The New York Fed acquired mortgage debt through its 2008 rescues of Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc.
Investors are stepping up efforts to recoup losses on mortgage bonds, which plummeted in value amid the worst slump in home prices since the 1930s. Last month, BNY Mellon declined to investigate mortgage files in response to a demand from the bondholder group, which has since expanded. Countrywide’s servicing failures, including insufficient record keeping, may open the door for investors to seek repurchases by bypassing the trustee, said Kathy Patrick, their lawyer at Gibbs & Bruns LLP.
“We now are in a position where we have to start a clock ticking,” Patrick, who is based in Houston, said today in a telephone interview.
If the issues aren’t fixed within 60 days, BNY Mellon should declare Countrywide in default on its servicing contracts, Patrick said.
The initiative covered by the letter sent to Bank of America and BNY Mellon yesterday is separate from the effort coordinated through Dallas lawyer Talcott Franklin, Patrick said. That firm is coordinating action for a larger group of mortgage-bond investors holding more than $500 billion of the debt.
PIMCO, BlackRock, and NY Fed Ask BofA to Repurchase Mortgage Bonds
With investors of this stature looking to force a bank as significant as Bank of America to buy back bonds, you can expect a tidal wave to begin. Other mortgage bond investors will almost certainly begin to follow suit. Other banks will also likely be the target of similar demands. If banks refuse, then lawsuits will likely follow.