The servicing rights represent about 21% of Citigroups total contracts as of midyear, and could be sold in pieces, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the sale is private. More than 80% of the loans are performing, according to the people.
Citigroups offering comes as the nations banks, including Bank of America Corp. and Ally Financial Inc., retreat from the almost $10 trillion mortgage-servicing market amid looming Basel III regulations. Thats attracting private-equity firms and hedge funds including Fortress Investment Group LLC and GSO Capital Partners LP to assets that can increase in value when borrowing costs rise and giving them more control over the rights to collect Americans monthly mortgage payments.
Its a step toward cleaning up their capital, said David Stephens, the chief financial officer at Denver-based United Capital Markets Inc., who added he didnt have specific knowledge of the Citigroup offering. Demand is currently high enough that banks can sell the rights without recording a loss, he said.
Shannon Bell, a spokeswoman at Citigroup, declined to comment on the potential sale. Citigroups Tier 1 common ratio under Basel 3 regulations stood at 10.4% at the end of September, according to a statement. Its risk-weighted assets under the regulations shrunk to $1.16 trillion from $1.19 trillion at the end of March.
Citigroup owned the servicing rights on $301 billion of mortgage balances at the end of June, according to the lenders quarterly securities filing. The bank valued those contracts at $2.52 billion at midyear.
MSRs are trading for between four and five times the 25 basis point servicing fee, according to Stephens. If Citigroup gets a similar price, it may collect between $630 million to $788 million in the sale, he said.