Is relief in sight for Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM ) ? Perhaps.
Rumor has it that JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) is back in talks to buy the Seattle-based bank, five months after it made its first offer. Initial reports say the deal could be completed this weekend. That would put a merciful end to a brutal week in which WaMu shares shed a third of their value.
Back in April, JPMorgan made a bid to buy WaMu for $8 per share. WaMu rejected that deal, some think because then-CEO Kerry Killinger didn't want to lose his job. Well, now that he's been ousted from the company he led for 18 years, JPMorgan could have an easier time completing a buyout.
A few notable points come up: One, if JPMorgan is actively pursuing WaMu this weekend, we can be nearly certain that it's not actively pursuing another struggling financial: Lehman Brothers (NYSE: LEH ) . Many think Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) will execute the Lehman deal -- if, indeed, there's a deal to be done. In any case, it looks as though we're in store for our third weekend this year of last-minute financial buyouts and bailouts, the other two involving Bear Stearns back in March and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE ) and Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM ) last weekend.
Another interesting thought: WaMu's new CEO, Alan Fishman, reportedly received a $7.5 million signing bonus. If JPMorgan takes over WaMu, it's nearly certain that Fishman would be let go, since that's almost always what happens in buyouts. Will he get to keep his $7.5 million windfall after just five days on the job? Who knows, although shareholders will certainly be up in arms if he does.
Stay tuned. This should be a wild weekend.
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