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Washington Mutual Acquisition: What Happens to Savings Accounts?

This article was written by in Banking. 16 comments.

Late Thursday night, JPMorgan Chase confirmed that it has acquired the deposits (bank accounts), assets, and “certain liabilities” of Washington Mutual. The acquisition has created the largest depository institution in the United States, with over $900 billion in bank accounts alone.

WaMu branches will become Chase branches as the acquisition progresses over the next two years.

Those who have bank accounts at Washington Mutual will not have any problems accessing their funds through the same means they do so currently. There is no run on cash; all money in savings accounts will be available. In fact, even deposits above the FDIC limits will most likely be available, because the FDIC wasn’t involved in this transaction at all. (Clarification: the Office of Thrift Supervision closed WaMu, handed the assets to FDIC, and FDIC brokered the auction of the assets.)

Banking Deal: Earn 1.30% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Synchrony Bank.

As a bonus, Chase customers and Washington Mutual customers will be able to share each other’s ATMs without fees.

There is no need to panic or pull money out of these accounts unless you don’t want to become a customer of Chase. It is possible, however, that Chase will lower Washington Mutual’s attractive interest rate offering of 4.0% APY, but nothing has been announced about this particular matter.

Here are relevant excerpts from the Chase press release:

New York, Sept. 25, 2008 – JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) tonight announced it has acquired all deposits, assets and certain liabilities of Washington Mutual’s banking operations from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), effective immediately. Excluded from the transaction are the senior unsecured debt, subordinated debt, and preferred stock of Washington Mutual’s banks. JPMorgan Chase will not be acquiring any assets or liabilities of the banks’ parent holding company (WM) or the holding company’s non-bank subsidiaries. As part of this transaction, JPMorgan Chase will make a payment of approximately $1.9 billion to the FDIC.

The acquisition expands Chase’s consumer branch network into the attractive states of California, Florida and Washington State and creates the nation’s second-largest branch network – with locations reaching 42% of the U.S. population. The combined 5,400 branches in 23 states will also serve as an excellent base to extend the reach of the business banking, commercial banking, credit card, consumer lending and wealth management businesses. The acquisition also extends Chase’s retail branch network to additional states, including Georgia, Idaho, Nevada and Oregon…

Customers of both companies may continue banking as usual, and feel confident that their deposits are secure, now backed by the strength and security of JPMorgan Chase. Employees and vendors should continue to operate business as usual.

Chase expects to convert Washington Mutual’s consumer banking, home lending and credit card businesses to the Chase brand and technology platforms over the next two years. Chase and Washington Mutual customers should be able to access the combined network of 14,000 ATMs without fees in the coming months.

Updated September 24, 2015 and originally published September 26, 2008.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

This is stunning that this is happening so quickly. I guess the only benefit to consumers with this transaction is the ability to use Chase Atm’s without paying a fee. I can’t even imagine all the worried customers that will be calling Wamu tomorrow morning to make sure accounts are safe. FDIC insurance wont’ even be tapped, but I’m sure lots of customers will still be nervous when they see the news.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

When the news broke late last nite, I checked the FDIC’s website and found this link:

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Finally, a Chase ATM in Brevard County! Woo hoo!

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avatar 4 Luke Landes

Klerg: Thanks for the link! As of this morning, account holders will receive all interest as of September 25; Chase will review interest rates for September 26 and on. We could see a dip in rates depending on how much Chase is motivated to continue to attract capital. I would think they would want to stem the tide of people pulling money out, but a 4.0% APY may not be profitable enough for Chase. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

No prob! More than happy to help and I hope it does!

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avatar 6 Smithee

Well, as a WaMu account holder, I’m glad that they’re doing everything they can to make this seamless and painless, but I’ll miss the WaMu friendly attitude.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

I have a Chase account. Do you think it makes sense to lock into a 5% WAMU CD for $15k and then use it against the Chase minimum deposit requirement of a Premier account. Chase rates are too bad anyway. I just opened a WAMU account yesterday after reading the Chase news

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I have the WaMu “online” savings/checking deal. Among the bennies of that is free outgoing wire transfers from the checking side. For me, that’s one of the nicer features of the account, and I wonder if it’ll be going away along with the 4% rate?

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avatar 9 Anonymous

This deal doesn’t quite make sense to me.

If the FDIC seized WAMU’s assets and then sold them off at a 1.9 billion dollar profit by what authority did they seize these assets? Normally when the FDIC does this they cash out the insured deposits and lose money. Is there another part of the deal that is undisclosed or how does the FDIC have authority to seize something that is not insolvent given that someone else was willing to pay something for it?

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avatar 10 Luke Landes

Apex: The Office of Thirft Supervision (established by Congress in 1989) closed down WaMu Thursday night due to insufficient liquidity. OTS handed the assets to FDIC who then brokered the auction, with JPMorgan Chase as the winner. I know some news reports are saying that FDIC seized assets but that doesn’t appear to be how the deal worked in this case. The OTS handled that, and they have the authority from Congress.

From the OTS fact sheet, here is why they shuttered WaMu:

Because of adverse events in the financial markets, material outflows began on September 15, 2008. Coupled with further rating agency downgrades of Washington Mutual Inc. (WMI, the top-tier holding company) and Washington Mutual Bank (WMB or the Bank), the Bank experienced a net deposit loss of $16.7 billion through September 24, 2008.

OTS Fact Sheet on Washington Mutual Bank

But I guess the further question is who received the $1.9 billion proceeds from the auction. Some news reports say the FDIC, but I’m not sure that is accurate, as the FDIC claims to be only a “broker” in the transaction.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

So the seizure was based on liquidity not insolvency. But yes, I am wondering who gets the 1.9 billion. Depending on how the buyout was structured, if JPM didn’t take on all the debts then the debt holders should have claims on that 1.9 billion. If they did take on all the debts with the assets then it seems the stock holders should have claims on the 1.9 billion. I don’t have any exposure to WAMU so its not my pocketbook talking but it seems like someone who has exposure to loses via WAMU should be getting that 1.9 billion. Otherwise it feels like explicit government theft (instead of the usual implicit theft. :) )

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avatar 12 Anonymous

To all earlier posters, thanks for the links. And to the blogger of this site, Kudos on providing info on this issue!

I recall one of WaMu’s earliest advertising slogans: “A Freind in in Family”. My first account was with Washington Mutual in the late 60’s. Ahhhh…. memory lane. Of course this was when they only operated in Washington State.

I did recently setup an acct online to take advantage of the special savings rate now at 4.0% APR, knowing they were in trouble.

I only put in a small amount. I knew if Another Bank took over, or if FDIC took over, either way my small deposits would be protected and I would have gone through the setup process. Plus I did not know if the new institutions would honor the now 4%, I wanted to lock in.

I do not know if I am reading correctly, but in checking on some Bank Rates in England, they offer much more that we do in Interest Rates! And just not a few banks.

What this country needs is a monetary policy, whereby the general population can take advantage of higher savings rates and w/o too much regulation – but with Incentives, Banks would offer same.

Everytime I read the Oil States, Russia, China and others are investing in Our Money! They get higher rates! Why not Joe Taxpayer?

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avatar 13 Anonymous

As a Wamu checking account holder myself, Will we keep the annual over-drawn checking forgiveness feature?
I will miss you Washington Mutual. i never had a problem banking with you guys, unlike north fork.. (Now Capital ONE)
having to wait 3 to 5 business days for a PAYROLL check to clear,,, is absurd!’ and then the fees they slap you with because the money is not available yet to pay the check.
I’m glad it wasn’t Capital ONE that bought you guys out…
With Wamu, i am worry money is always available and on point. friendly customer service..
I hope Chase lets us keep your current policy.
That would be great.
I hope they’re not a horror like North Fork and Capital One.

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avatar 14 Anonymous

So this means that when I move to California I won’t have to switch my brick-n-mortar bank (used to be no chase branches in Cal) — good news for me since all WaMu branches will be switched over.

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avatar 15 Anonymous

Lets tell the truth; the government needs a bailout because of predatory lending. You will not eliminate the proletariate. We will not be stopped. 700 billion dollars for these people who were predators against the working class. Vote for Obama. He is change. He is who we need to stop this madness. McCain wants war. He wants to build nuclear power plants. Lets stop the war and re-start the age of enlightenment.

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avatar 16 Anonymous

I have a home equity loan with WaMu. I lost some important information about that account. Would Chase be able to help me?

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