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WaMu CEO Could Cash In on a Sale

Fishman will receive a "sign-on" cash bonus of $7.5 million this year for agreeing to take the CEO job. He also receives equity awards including options to purchase 5 million shares of the company's common stock that will vest at certain stock price targets between $10 and $18 a share as well as 612,500 of restricted shares for joining the company.

Under the employment contract, which expires at the end of 2011, Fishman will be paid $1 million in annual salary, up to $3.65 million in an annual bonus as well as the opportunity to receive long-term incentive awards of at least $8 million, the filing says.

Fishman will receive "a large share of both cash and incentive compensation if Washington Mutual sells," according to Fred Cannon, the associate director of research and chief equity strategist at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. "[W]e applaud the compensation designed in the case of a sale as we believe a sale may well be in the best interests of shareholders."

While most observers would agree that a sale of the struggling mortgage-heavy company would be the best option at this point, a deal seems to be increasingly difficult to do so.

A Bloomberg article on Wednesday suggested that accounting rule changes that require banks to value assets "at market prices instead of deriving values from measures including the purchase price" is hindering bank M&A. The article said that at least three suitors have walked away this year from any agreements with WaMu or National City (NCC), another troubled bank, because of the rule changes.
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