NEW YORK — SLM Corp. is interested in acquiring student lenders suffering from the termination of the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the company said at an investor conference Wednesday.
Notably, Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Jack Remondi told participants at the Barclay's Financial Services Conference in London that SLM, known commonly as Sallie Mae, "would be interested in exploring" the student lending operations of Citigroup Inc., which is the next largest player in the industry. Citigroup has placed its 80%-owned Student Loan Corp. in Citi Holdings, its line of non-core businesses, which it has said it wants to exit as soon as possible.
In late March, lawmakers voted to eliminate the Federal Family Education Loan Program, or FFELP, ending fees paid by the government to banks that originate federally guaranteed loans. The loss of funding is a major hit for many originators, though four companies were chosen to service the loans that will now be originated directly through the government, helping soften the blow slightly. Sallie Mae was one of those companies.
"The declining business model makes it, we think, a ripe opportunity for entities to exit the business, particularly if it's not material to them," Remondi said. "We are, we believe, the best positioned to take advantage of these acquisition opportunities to add to our revenue stream."
Sallie Mae, the biggest originator of federal loans, also has a large private loan portfolio and a steady revenue stream from loan guarantee and collection businesses, among other operations. The company stated during its first-quarter earnings call that it was interested in acquiring the federal loan portfolios of lenders that will be in runoff mode once new originations cease July 1.
Remondi also noted that even though Sallie Mae won't be originating new loans, its $147 billion federal loan portfolio isn't winding down immediately. The average life of Sallie Mae's federal loans is 7.8 years.
Meanwhile, Remondi said Sallie Mae is continuing to see the quality of its private loan portfolio improve as it requires more students to have co-signers.
Shares of SLM were trading recently at $11.38, up 4 cents.