As the mortgage market experiences continuing turmoil, our local giant in the industry is not spared:
The nationwide housing slump and collapsed mortgage markets have taken yet another toll on Washington Mutual — specifically, on its employees and shareholders.
The Seattle-based thrift, one of the nation’s largest home lenders, said Monday it will:
- Cut 3,150 jobs, mostly in its struggling home loans business;
- Shutter nearly two-thirds of its home-loan stores;
- Close its 5-year-old mortgage-backed securities brokerage;
- Slash its quarterly dividend to 15 cents per share, from 56 cents.
The company also said it would sell $2.5 billion worth of convertible preferred stock. That, along with the dividend cut and the other closures and reductions, should give WaMu $3.7 billion more in capital to work with as it tries to ride out the nation’s worst financial crisis since the savings-and-loan debacle of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Don’t think that if the economy as a whole takes a downturn that our giants in other industries will somehow be spared, either. But hey, Seattle is Special and all real estate is local, right?
(Drew DeSilver & Melissa Allison, Seattle Times, 12.10.2007)