WaMu presses ahead with multiple suitors

Tue Sep 23, 2008 3:24pm EDT
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By Jessica Hall

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Washington Mutual Inc, the large U.S. savings and loan beleaguered by mortgage losses, is pressing ahead for a takeover deal by talking to multiple suitors, as well as exploring options to raise capital, sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

U.S. regulators are eager for the company to forge a successful deal, but no deadline or requirement has been placed on the bank to accept a takeover offer or split itself among several suitors, the sources said.

Still, some suitors are interested in having the U.S. government buy some of Washington Mutual's mortgage-related debt as part of the $700 billion government-backed bailout of financial institutions, sources said.

Getting the bad debt off Washington Mutual's books would make it more attractive to a broader range of suitors, the sources said.

Washington Mutual would prefer a takeover deal "sooner rather than later," but no deadline has been set, one source said. The company is not waiting for the bailout plan to be approved by Congress, the source added.

Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank is weighing a bid for all or part of Washington Mutual Inc, joining a mix of other suitors, the sources said.

TD Bank may bid as part of a group, or may pursue an acquisition of any assets or branches that get divested if another bidder wins the hand of Washington Mutual, one source said.

Others weighing possible takeover bids for Washington Mutual include Banco Santander SA, Citigroup Inc and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, the source said.   Continued...