Friday, September 26, 2008

Wachovia about to collapse?

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The failure of one of America's biggest retail banks undermined confidence in a fresh clutch of US household names today as investors digested the implications of the biggest collapse of a high-street bank on record. Washington Mutual, which was bought by the banking giant JP Morgan for $1.9bn after being seized by the US authorities late yesterday, had a stockpile of controversial mortgages known as "option ARMs" that allow borrowers huge flexibility in setting the level of their own repayments. While popular at the height of America's housing boom, the mortgages have proven to be a huge liability for banks and other firms known to have exposure to them were struggling to stem an erosion in credibility. Wachovia, a national chain with 3,000 branches and assets of $812bn, saw its shares dive by 27% and by the end of the day, it was casting around for a buyer. Reports in the US suggested that talks were underway with Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Spain's Banco Santander. National City Corporation, a regional bank based in Ohio, suffered a sell-off that pushed its stock down by 25% amid fears, as yet unjustified, that customers could begin withdrawing their deposits. Details emerged of the extent of a run on the assets of Washington Mutual, known as WaMu, in the days leading up to its demise. The Office of Thrift Supervision said customers withdrew $16.7bn of deposits in 10 days beginning on September 15 - the day Lehman Brothers declared itself bankrupt, sparking a crisis of confidence in the banking system. Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), said the outflow alarmed WaMu's creditors, who became increasingly reluctant to extend funds. "Those who were willing to lend to them were no longer willing to do so," she said. The FDIC reassured customers that all their money was safe. But it was clear that JP Morgan's offer to buy the Seattle bank's assets was a profound relief to regulators as America's insurance fund for banking deposits would have struggled to meet the bill - potentially requiring taxpayers to pick up any shortfall.

Wachovia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
However, the deal fell through when Wachovia balked at MBNA's purchase price. Within a week of the deal's collapse, MBNA entered into an agreement to be purchased by Wachovia's ...
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Press Release: Wachovia Agrees to Preliminary Auction Rate Securities ...
Wachovia agrees to repurchase ARS from all investors who purchased ARS from Wachovia prior to the collapse of the ARS market in mid-February 2008.
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Wachovia latest to settle securities probe
Wachovia latest to settle securities probe ... by the New York Attorney General and other state regulators into the collapse of the market
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Wachovia Press Releases
A listing of the latest Wachovia Corporation press releases. ... After many investors saw their portfolio values decline in the collapse of the bull market ...
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Wachovia Press Releases
A listing of the latest Wachovia Corporation press releases. ... appears focused on sustaining the expansion, although fallout from the Enron collapse, a ...
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Wachovia reportedly in talks with Citigroup
Wachovia's downfall was hastened by the collapse in real estate prices and exacerbated by its aggressive lending practices, which grew further when the firm bought Golden West, a major lender in California, in May 2006.
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Source: Seattle Times
NewsDateTime: 1 hour ago

Confidence in US banks nosedives after Washington Mutual collapse
Confidence in US banks nosedives after Washington Mutual collapse Shares in Wachovia and National City Corporation suffered a sell-off
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Source: Guardian Unlimited
NewsDateTime: 4 hours ago

Counteparty credit index weakens after WaMu collapse
NEW YORK, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Concerns about the counterparty risk of large banks jumped on Friday, led by Wachovia Corp (WB.N: Quote , Profile , Research , Stock Buzz ), following the collapse of Washington Mutual (WM.N: Quote , Profile , Research ...
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Source: Reuters
NewsDateTime: 7 hours ago

UPDATE 1-Investors pile into Wachovia put options
CHICAGO, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Option traders on Friday furiously snapped up bearish put options in Wachovia Corp (WB.N: Quote , Profile , Research , Stock Buzz ), fueled by worries over the fate of the bank after the overnight collapse of Washington ...
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Source: Reuters
NewsDateTime: 58 minutes ago

Dollar up vs euro, but mostly slips as talks go on
Investors also worried about the future of Wachovia Corp. after WaMu's collapse. Wachovia also has a deteriorating portfolio of mortgage loans, and its shares also plunged 27 percent on Friday.
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Source: International Herald Tribune
NewsDateTime: 2 hours ago

"We were fortunate: this is huge," said Bair. "We've protected taxpayers, we've protected depositors and we've protected the deposit insurance fund." Last month the FDIC said it had a "watch list" of 117 potentially troubled banks, holding a total of $78bn in assets. Bair said the list was growing as the financial crisis deepened. WaMu's senior executives were caught on the hop when their firm was seized by the Office of Thrift Supervision. At the moment of the seizure, much of WaMu's leadership team were on a plane from New York to Seattle. The bank's failure could generate a fresh outbreak of fury over executive compensation. WaMu's chief executive, Alan Fishman, joined the bank only three weeks ago from a rival, Sovereign Bank. He received a $7.5m signing-on bonus and could be eligible for $11.6m in severance pay. WaMu has its roots in a savings association created to help Seattle residents rebuild after the city suffered a catastrophic fire in 1889. The bank has 2,239 branches across the US and employs 43,000 people. It is widely known for its television jingles which celebrate the bank's nickname, WaMu, with chants of "woo-hoo". In Seattle, there was gloom about the firm's demise. "It's devastating" Steve Leahy, chairman of the city's chamber of commerce, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. "They've been here since the Seattle fire. The suddenness of all this, it's just taking our breath away." JP Morgan's decision to ride to WaMu's rescue was the second time this year that it has snapped up the assets of a troubled rival. Aided by a Federal Reserve guarantee, JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns when it was at the brink of bankruptcy in March. Financial historians pointed to a proud history at JP Morgan of acting to avert crisis. The bank's founder, John Pierpont Morgan, was credited with bringing together Wall Street bankers to come up with a rescue package to prop up failing finance houses at the height of a stock market panic in 1907.

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