Freddie Mac Fills Key Executive Role

By Nick Timiraos 

Freddie Mac named mortgage-industry veteran Bruce Witherell as its chief operating officer, filling the second of three key executive vacancies at the government-backed mortgage-finance company. The appointment of Mr. Witherell fills a position that had been vacant for two years, and follows the selection in July of Charles “Ed” Haldeman as chief executive. Mr. Haldeman, a mutual-fund executive, became the third person to hold the title of CEO since federal regulators ousted management and seized control of Freddie Mac and sister company Fannie Mae when they were placed into conservatorship in September. Analysts said it would be hard to find someone with Wall Street experience who hadn’t been involved in subprime or Alt-A lending. “I don’t know how you hire anyone from the private sector mortgage arena who isn’t at least dinged by anything that’s happened to date,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, a research firm in Washington.