Sunday, January 17, 2010

A timeline for the fall of WaMu

Feel free to correct me about any of the particulars below. It does seem that the forced sale of the assets of the operating company, Washington Mutual, and the bankruptcy filing of the Holding Company, were both key events in the financial chaos of the autumn of 2008, and here is a simple effort to set forth some pertinent facts in chronological order.

We begin our timeline while WaMu is still engaged in a buying spree.

2002, purchases HomeSide Lending Inc., a major mortgage lender.

2003, Chief Executive Officer Kerry Killinger says, "We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did in theirs."

2005, purchases Providian Financial Corp., thereby becoming a large player in the credit card business.

2006, purchases Commercial Capital Bancorp, the third largest player in the multi-family residence lending market in California.

2006, WaMu bans referral fees from banks to agents, fearing they could be construed as illegal payments. But the ban is only unevenly applied within the organization.

October 2007, WaMu enters a period of consistent heavy losses as its easy-money "power of yes" policies meet the great "no" of a collapsing housing market.

February 2008, WaMu introduces the "Whoo Hoo" advertising campaign, applies to register a trademark in the phrase. But by this time, the view from the executive suites would have been better expressed by another Simpson expression, "D'oh!"

March 2008, Killinger calls Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase, to talk about a merger -- in effect, putting his company up for sale. On March 16, a JPM team went to Seattle for talks with WaMu.

April 2008, JPM makes an offer of $7 billion. It is rejected.

July 22, 2008, WaMu posts a loss of $3.3 billion for the second quarter.

September 8, Ratings agencies downgrade WaMu, and its stock price plummets. The board fires Killinger, replaces him with Alan Fishman

From Sept. 9 to September 18, depositors withdraw a total of $16.7 billion.

September 14, [Sunday] Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy, guaranteeing market chaos through the following week.

September 15 - 19, Hell week on Wall Street. WaMu stock price falls to $2.01.

September 19, Sheila Bair, of the FDIC, calls Dimon of JPM and tells him to think about taking over WaMu.

September 24, JPM's head of retail, Charlie Scharf, submits a bid of $1.888 billion for WaMu's assets to the FDIC. This is the winning bid. It is regarded by some as on the high side under the circumstances, though significant lower than the $7 billion they had offered for the company in April.

September 25, FDIC seizes WaMu, makes the deal official.

September 26, The holding company, WMI, enters bankruptcy in Delaware.

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