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Washington Mutual Preps Itself for Sale

WaMu has already been the source of much speculation regarding a sale. Several media outlets have reported that the Seattle-based company was in serious discussions with JPMorgan Chase, and rumored to be getting closer to making an offer.

The New York Post, citing anonymous sources, reported Wednesday that federal regulators called a number of banks, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC (HBC) and Wells Fargo, asking if they would consider acquiring the ailing Seattle lender.

But so far no deal has been made. WaMu rebuffed an offer this spring by JPMorgan to acquire the company. The Post article said no discussions regarding a takeover are currently under way between WaMu and other firms.

A spokeswoman for WaMu said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Companies from all factions of the financial services industry are facing liquidity and capital crises, forcing many to go under, be sold or bailed out by the government.

This week alone, mortgage-centric investment house Lehman Brothers (LEH) filed for bankruptcy on Monday and has since agreed to sell a portion of its business to Barclays (BCS). Merrill Lynch (MER), fearful that it could be the next broker to go under, agreed to sell itself the same day as Lehman's bankruptcy filing in a hurried deal to Bank of America (BAC). On late Tuesday, the world's largest insurer American International Group (AIG) had to be bailed out by the government.

BofA is already integrating its July acquisition of the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial, while rival IndyMac Bancorp was seized by regulators this summer. Earlier this month the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) had to be bailed out by the government. Bear Stearnswas acquired by JPMorgan Chase in the spring.

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