Russia Cuts Fannie, Freddie Exposure

The country has cut its exposure to U.S. mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to less than $50 billion by not refinancing matured short-term debt, a senior Central Bank official said Monday.

Russia held around $100 billion in U.S. agencies Freddie, Fannie and Federal Home Loan Banks at the start of 2008 as part of its now nearly $600 billion in reserves, although more than 80 percent of the holdings were due to mature within the year. "It's now less than $50 billion," Central Bank first deputy chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said.

"We had short-term paper. They mature: You can refinance and buy some more, or you cannot," he said.

News of the reduced holding comes around two weeks after the Finance Ministry said it was happy to hold the agency debt and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia had not made losses from investing reserves despite market turbulence.