Freddie Mac to Name Layton CEO

Freddie Mac is preparing to name Donald Layton, the former CEO of online brokerage E*Trade Financial Corp., its next CEO, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company is expected to announce the hiring as soon as Thursday, these people said. That would end a six-month search for the mortgage giant's third chief executive in the four years since the government took control of it.

Layton had been considered the frontrunner for the job for more than a month. His appointment has been subject to approval by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Freddie and its sibling, Fannie Mae, and by the Treasury Department.

One person who spoke with Layton recently said he had decided to accept the post, which he considers "a public service." Layton, who will be 62 years old on Wednesday, declined to comment. Representatives for FHFA and Freddie Mac also declined to comment.

In turning to Layton, Freddie and its regulator are selecting a financial-services veteran whom the government has turned to in the recent past and who is willing to work for much less money than a typical CEO.

Two years ago, the Treasury Department named Layton an outside director of American International Group Inc., the insurer that required a government bailout in 2008. He serves alongside Christopher Lynch, who became chairman of Freddie Mac in December.