Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Washington Mutual Gets $7 Billion From TPG-Led Group

(Bloomberg) -- Washington Mutual Inc., the largest U.S. savings and loan, got $billion from a group of investors led by David Bonderman's TPG Inc. after losses on subprime loans ate up capital and erased 74 percent of its market value.

Washington Mutual sold 176 million shares at $8.75 a piece, 33 percent below yesterday's closing price on the New York Stock Exchange, and preferred shares, the company said in a statement today. The lender also slashed its dividend and announced 3,000 job cuts. The stock fell as much as 13 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Kerry Killinger, struggling to reassure investors the bank has enough capital to stay afloat, said the dividend cut will preserve $490 million annually. Seattle-based Washington Mutual, which said today it lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter, will stop making loans through mortgage brokers and close 186 home-lending offices.

``It's dilutive for shareholders on a massive basis, so it's not great for the company, but it's great for the system that capital can be raised during these stressful times,'' Vincent Farrell, a principal at New York-based Scotsman Capital Management LLC, said on Bloomberg Radio.

Washington Mutual fell 76 cents to $12.39 a share at 10:28 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

Banks and securities firms including Citigroup Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sought cash infusions after record losses tied to subprime home loans. The world's biggest financial companies have written down assets or set aside money to cover more than $232 billion in bad loans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

`Substantial' Capital

``This substantial new capital -- along with the other steps we are announcing today -- will position us for a return to profitability as these elevated credit costs subside,'' Killinger said in the statement.

Washington Mutual said it will set aside $3.5 billion because of expected losses on home loans and expects to charge off $1.4 billion in losses during the first quarter. The company had been expected to lose $344 million, or 39 cents per share, the average of industry analysts who follow the company, CreditSights Inc. analyst David Hendler said in a report today.

As part of the agreement Washington Mutual will stop making loans through mortgage brokers and close its freestanding home loan offices, while focusing on its 2,500 bank and small business lending offices. The quarterly dividend was cut to 1 cent a share from 15 cents.

Bonderman, TPG's founding partner, will be added to the board. Larry Kellner, CEO of Continental Airlines and former chief financial officer of American Savings Bank, will be an observer at TPG's request. Bonderman declined to comment through a spokesman, Owen Blicksilver.

Market Value

The lender, known as WaMu, once ranked among the 11 biggest originators during 2006 of subprime mortgages, which are made to people with the weakest credit.

Overdue loans and foreclosures set a record last year in the U.S., and Washington Mutual posted its first loss since 1997 in the fourth quarter. The company wrote down the value of its home-mortgage unit by $1.6 billion.

Washington Mutual has lost about three-quarters of its market value in the past year ended last week, leaving the company almost tied with Cleveland-based National City Corp. among the worst performers in the 24-stock KBW Bank Index. National City, Ohio's biggest bank, ranked 10th among subprime lenders in 2006, according to a March ranking last year by Inside Mortgage Finance.

Washington Mutual ranked sixth among U.S. mortgage companies last year, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance.

Default Rates

Subprime loans typically have the highest default rate, and bad subprime mortgages set a record in the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That contributed to the current U.S. housing slump, the worst in at least a quarter of a century.

More than 100 home lenders have sought buyers, halted loans or gone out of business since the start of 2007, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company ranks sixth with a 3.2 percent share of U.S. bank deposits behind Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wachovia Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Citigroup Inc., Killinger said in a Jan. 29 investor conference. It had $194.3 billion in deposits as of Dec. 31.