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Originally published Friday, September 26, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Timeline | Washington Mutual: A long history

Washington Mutual timeline

1889: Washington National Building Loan and Investment Association is founded after fire destroys much of Seattle's core. The following year it makes the first monthly installment home loan on the Pacific Coast, lending $700 to build a house in Ballard.

1917: Reconstituted as Washington Mutual Savings Bank, it has more than 16,000 depositor-owners when the U.S. enters World War I. During the war, Washington Mutual's assets rise 68 percent.

1930: Washington Mutual makes the first of many acquisitions, rescuing Continental Mutual Savings Bank from financial distress as the Great Depression deepens.

1970s: The company pioneers the first shared cash-machine network in the nation, The Exchange.

1980s: Washington Mutual buys brokerage firm Murphey Favre of Spokane. It converts to investor ownership, with shares starting to trade on March 11, 1983.

Early 1990s: Kerry Killinger becomes CEO in April 1990 and chairman of the board the next January. From 1990 to 1996, WaMu acquired 16 smaller banks in Washington, Oregon, Utah and California.

1997-98: Washington Mutual buys Great Western Financial and H.F. Ahmanson for a combined $13.6 billion, becoming a West Coast power with their strong California presence.

1999: The company buys subprime lender Long Beach Financial, which writes mortgages for people with less-than-stellar credit. Killinger calls it "an important extension of Washington Mutual's core strategy to be one of the nation's leading consumer-oriented financial-services institutions."

2001: Acquisition of Dime Bancorp gives Washington Mutual a big New York presence. The company also buys Fleet Mortgage, becoming for a time the nation's No. 1 mortgage originator.

2005: Washington Mutual buys credit-card issuer Providian Financial.

2006: Washington Mutual eliminates more than 10,000 jobs to cut costs as mortgage originations slow.

April 2007: WaMu reports a 20 percent decline in first-quarter profit, beginning a year of increasing difficulties. Killinger warns of "unprecedented deterioration" in the subprime-mortgage market but predicts WaMu's home-lending unit will become profitable again by year's end.

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December 2007: WaMu shares hit an 11-year low after it cuts its dividend by 73 percent. The company says it's cooperating with an SEC inquiry stemming from allegations by N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that it made mortgage loans based on improperly inflated home appraisals.

Jan. 17, 2008: WaMu posts its first annual loss since Ronald Reagan was president, due to fourth-quarter red ink of $1.87 billion.

April 8, 2008: An investor group led by David Bonderman's TPG pumps $7.2 billion into WaMu, getting just over 50 percent of the company at $8.75 a share. WaMu says it will close its approximately 186 remaining stand-alone home-loan offices, laying off 2,600 to 3,000 workers.

June 2, 2008: Kerry Killinger is removed as WaMu chairman after 17 years, replaced by board member Stephen Frank. Killinger remains CEO.

June 17, 2008: WaMu says it is cutting 1,200 more jobs, including 260 at its downtown Seattle headquarters.

July 14, 2008: Investors worried about the financial sector's weakness send WaMu shares down 35 percent to $3.23, a level not seen since February 1991.

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

Sept. 7, 2008: CEO Killinger is forced out, replaced by Alan Fishman, former chief executive of Independence Community Bank of New York, which was sold two years ago to Sovereign Bancorp. U.S. government takes control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Sept. 14-19, 2008: Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection, Merrill Lynch is rescued by Bank of America and the federal government takes over insurer American International Group. WaMu's shares sink to $2.01.

Sept. 25, 2008: After massive withdrawals by depositors, regulators seize WaMu and arrange a sale of its assets and deposits to JP Morgan in the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Source: Washington Mutual,

The Seattle Times

— David Turim, Seattle Times

news researcher

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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