Fund Managers Jostle for Toxic Assets

Fund managers submitted more than 100 applications to the Treasury Department to participate in the so-called ‘legacy securities’ side of the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP), which aims to attract private capital in the hopes of encouraging lending. A separate government plan in the works, however, might attract investors previously turned off by the shared equity stake inherent in the PPIP. Applicants to the PPIP included experts in traditional fixed income, real estate and alternative assets, Treasury said Wednesday. Treasury officials plan to inform applicants of their preliminary qualification around May 15, at which time the funds need to raise a minimum $500m for investment. The government match for these investments will take the form of taxpayer dollars, which will also go toward clearing toxic loans and mortgage-backed securities from banks’ balance sheets. Treasury plans to open the program to smaller fund managers in the future with a lower minimum capital requirement, the Treasury said. For now, however, the program only boasts five open seats for large private investors that will bid on the securities banks bring to the table. Black Rock (BLK) slipped into line last week, according to a MarketWatch reportInvesco (IVZ), along with investment giant Wilbur Ross’ WL Ross, this week boasted its intention to invest up to $1bn in the program. “We strongly believe that the Public-Private Investment Program will help stimulate the mortgage market and provide individual and institutional investors globally with compelling investment opportunities in the Legacy Securities and Legacy Loan programs,” Invesco president and CEO Martin Flanagan said in a media statement Monday. A separate plan in the works at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. might soon attract investors with financing to buy banks’ toxic assets and a ‘no strings attached’ shared equity stake, unnamed sources told Bloomberg News today. The proposed plan, not yet official, would soften the hard edges of recent government programs felt by so many private institutions: executive pay restrictions, substantial government restrictions and public and media scrutiny, Bloomberg‘s sources say. “Treasury putting in equity was not an attractive element for investors” considering the PPIP, former investment banker Douglas Elliott told Bloomberg. “From a public policy view, it’s a distinctly less-good thing, but maybe it’s the only reasonable way to alleviate the investor concern about executive compensation rules.” Write to Diana Golobay at [email protected]. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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