Sallie Mae logo
Sallie Mae logo - 
Listen To The Story

TESS VIGELAND: Today's lesson will address corporate takeovers. Sallie Mae, the nation's largest student loan company, accepted a bid from two big banks and two private equity firms. The pricetag: $25 billion.

Marketplace's John Dimsdale reports on what the buyout means amid calls to cut federal subsidies to Sallie Mae.

JOHN DIMSDALE: You gotta wonder what Sallie Mae's buyers — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and two private equity investors — are thinking.

Sure, Sallie Mae originated 23 billion in student loans last year. But the federal government appears to be moving away from subsidies for private lenders and toward direct government-to-student loans.

And Jonathan Kopell at the Yale School of Management says taking Sallie Mae private will raise some eyebrows in Washington.

JONATHAN KOPELL: It's not a government-sponsored enterprise anymore, but it once was. And it still is seen as having a highly public mission: financing student borrowing. There's a great deal of concern, whenever you have a transaction like this, that the public mission is gonna be somehow compromised.

As a result of the deal, two Wall Street ratings services warn they may cut the grade they give Sallie Mae's debt.

Plus, several state investigations into kickbacks between lenders and colleges are expanding. While Sallie Mae has already settled one case, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo today issued subpoenas and information requests to 13 more lenders, including the two banks that want to buy Sallie Mae.

Still, Sandy Baum, an economics professor at Skidmore College, says don't count Sallie Mae out just yet.

SANDY BAUM: The most rapidly-growing component of student borrowing is actually private loans. And Sallie Mae is a major player in the private student loan market.

Sallie Mae's buyers are placing a big bet the company will continue to be the dominant player in a newly competitive private market for student lending.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.