Freddie Mac names longtime JPMorgan official Donald Layton chief executive

By David S. Hilzenrath

Freddie Mac, the mortgage-funding company operating as a ward of the government, is getting its fourth leader since it was placed under federal conservatorship during the financial meltdown of 2008. Donald H. Layton, 62, who spent almost 30 years at JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor firms and rose to vice chairman, will become Freddie Mac’s chief executive later this month, the company said Thursday. Layton is stepping into a role that other executives might see reason to avoid. Because the company is essentially an extension of the government and has received a massive infusion of taxpayer funds, the government has curbed executive compensation there. In addition, it is unclear what role Freddie Mac and its sibling Fannie Mae will play in the future. Policymakers have been considering eliminating their place in the mortgage business. “It’s a hard job to fill because of the congressional pay limits,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics and a longtime observer of the business. “You have to be really public-spirited to do it,” she said. The challenge includes “crafting a future for a company that owes the government more than it could ever hope to repay,” she said.