First Horizon National (FHN) is adequately reserved to cover all buyback requests from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Bryan Jordan, its president and chief executive, said Tuesday.
The Memphis company took a $272 million charge in the second quarter and at the end of the third quarter it had reserves of $292 million. Meanwhile it expects to buy back fewer soured loans this quarter from the government-sponsored enterprises than it has in previous quarters.
"Over the course of the fourth quarter, we've seen some decline in the level of [buyback] requests," Jordan said at the Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference in New York. "We still feel good about our reserving process and we expect to have a de minimis cost from the GSEs in the fourth quarter."
First Horizon sold its mortgage business in 2008 and has incurred more than $750 million in cumulative losses. Jordan says the bank's exposure to repurchases on private label mortgage-backed securities is "manageable."
But he noted that banks are operating in a difficult environment with modest loan growth and stiff competition particularly for commercial real estate and commercial and industrial loans.
"We see a lot of competition for every deal that comes along," he said.
To that end, First Horizon is focused on slashing $50 million in costs in 2013 partly by cutting 200 employees through what it calls a "voluntary separation program." That will save $20 million in expenses but also result in a $20 million to $25 million severance charge in the next two quarters, Jordan said.