SOURCE: The First Marblehead Corporation

March 27, 2008 10:35 ET

First Marblehead Statement on Recent Actions by Moody's Investors Service

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - March 27, 2008) - The First Marblehead Corporation (NYSE: FMD) today released the following statement regarding recent actions taken by Moody's Investors Service with regard to the ratings of certain classes of notes issued by the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts (NCSLT) and separately the ratings actions taken on The Education Resources Institute, Inc. (TERI).

In the beginning of December 2007, Moody's Investors Service placed on review for possible downgrade the ratings of certain subordinated classes of asset-backed notes issued by the NCSLT. Since December, Moody's has conducted a thorough review of First Marblehead's NCSLT securitization portfolio, which consists of over 130 distinct classes of securities. Last evening, Moody's announced the results of their review. Three classes of securities had their current ratings affirmed and eighteen classes of subordinated notes had a downward adjustment to their ratings.

"During the review period, First Marblehead provided Moody's with a comprehensive level of historical data and cash flow projections for each outstanding trust. In addition, we detailed the significant steps taken to improve student loan collection practices, which are designed to reduce delinquencies and eventually defaults," said Jack Kopnisky, Chief Executive Officer and President of The First Marblehead Corporation. "We also discussed the substantial modifications we have made to our credit underwriting policies. We have worked closely with our clients and TERI in recent months to tighten underwriting criteria.

"First Marblehead's management team has been focused on adjusting our business model to manage the challenges presented by the current negative consumer credit cycle and the capital markets credit dislocation. The performance of the securitization trusts continues to be strong as evidenced by the fact that the subordinated classes of securities have retained their investment grade ratings. We remain dedicated to taking the actions necessary to maintain the highest quality program to benefit students who require financial assistance to attend college and to support investors in our securitization program," added Kopnisky.

Separately, Moody's has been conducting its own review of TERI, a nonprofit guarantor of private education loans. With regard to the rating action, Kopnisky made the following comment:

"The Education Resources Institute has a rich history of providing programs to help students achieve their dreams of attaining a higher education. First Marblehead is currently working with TERI to determine how we may be able to provide assistance in this challenging environment. As we have discussed in the past, First Marblehead has been developing other guaranty options for our clients including a self-guaranteed loan product and products guaranteed by another third party.

"In 2008, there will be more students starting college than ever before and early indications show that they will require substantial financial assistance. First Marblehead looks forward to providing high quality solutions to our clients and students to meet their growing needs."

About The First Marblehead Corporation -- First Marblehead provides financial solutions that help students achieve their dreams. The Company helps meet the growing demand for private education loans by providing national and regional financial institutions and educational institutions, as well as businesses and other enterprises, with an integrated suite of design, implementation and securitization services for student loan programs. First Marblehead supports responsible lending for borrowers and is a strong proponent of the smart borrowing principle, which encourages students to access scholarships, grants and federally guaranteed loans before considering private education loans. For more information, go to www.firstmarblehead.com.

Statements in this press release regarding the future performance of The National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts (NCSLT), future guaranty options and future loan originations facilitated by First Marblehead, as well as any other statements that are not purely historical, constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based upon our historical performance, the historical performance of NCSLT and on our plans, estimates and expectations as of March 27, 2008. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be regarded as a representation by us or any other person that the future results, plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be achieved. You are cautioned that matters subject to forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including economic, legislative, regulatory, competitive and other factors, which may cause actual performance, including NCSLT's performance and facilitated loan volumes, or the timing of events, to be materially different than those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include: degradation of credit quality or performance of the loan portfolios of NCSLT; economic, regulatory, competitive and other factors affecting prepayment, default and recovery rates on the NCSLT loan portfolio, including interest rate trends, full or partial prepayments, and prepayments as a result of loan consolidation activity; the effectiveness of recent underwriting and collections programs; our relationships with key clients, including their reaction to the TERI downgrade and receptivity to alternative guaranty structures; and the other factors set forth under the caption "Item 1A. Risk Factors" in First Marblehead's quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 11, 2008. We disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this press release.

Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Janice D. Walker
    Corporate Communications
    617-638-2047

    Lee Jacobson
    Investor Relations
    617-638-2065