US regulator says watching Countrywide very closely

US regulator says watching Countrywide very closely


Washington: The Office of Thrift Supervision is very closely monitoring events at Countrywide Financial Corp and has had a consistent onsite examination presence at the California company since it converted to a thrift charter in March 2007, an OTS spokesman said on Monday.

“Top officials here in Washington are monitoring the situation with Countrywide very closely given recent events." OTS spokesman William Ruberry said.

Ruberry said the onsite presence was “consistent with our approach to supervising our largest institutions, of which Countrywide is one."

Like many mortgage lenders, Countrywide has struggled with rising delinquencies and foreclosures and an unwillingness among bankers to extend credit and among investors to buy the loans it makes.

Analysts have said difficult market conditions may force Countrywide to reduce mortgage lending.

Concerns about Countrywide’s stability grew after the Calabasas, California-based company last week unexpectedly tapped an entire $11.5 billion credit line to help fund operations.

“We’re not there every day, but we’re there most days," Ruberry said.

He added, “It changes depending on what is going on, what the examination staff is reviewing, so it’s not a static situation."

Countrywide shares closed down $1.62, or 7.6 percent, at $19.81 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have fallen 53 percent this year. (Reporting by John Poirier) REUTERS