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|Washington Mutual Sharpens Focus of Mortgage Banking Operations; Goal is to Enhance Profitable Growth by Better Leveraging the Company Brand|
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 22, 2004--Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE:WM) today announced plans to sharpen the focus of its retail mortgage lending channel in an effort to enhance the growth and profitability of its entire mortgage banking businesses.
Washington Mutual said it will concentrate its retail loan origination activities mainly in markets where it already has a retail banking presence -- its "signature" markets, thereby effectively leveraging its advertising and other branding efforts. The company will close retail loan origination offices outside these signature markets, but will continue to serve home mortgage customers in them through existing wholesale and correspondent lending relationships.
"We are going to focus even more attention on the high-growth markets where we can gain additional leverage from the company's overall branding efforts," said Tony Meola, executive vice president, Washington Mutual Home Loans Production. "We plan to fuel significant new growth in our retail mortgage operations by re-directing resources to our most productive and profitable activities.
"We have the right team to make that happen -- a team that is committed to helping customers find their dream home," Meola added.
Washington Mutual's plan to narrow the focus of its retail mortgage lending operations will result in the closure of approximately 100 retail lending and loan processing offices in 17 non-signature markets, including Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, and New Mexico. It also includes North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The facility closures are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2004 and will result in the elimination of approximately 1,840 positions across the nation. Coupled with yesterday's announced closure of its mortgage loan processing facility in San Antonio, Texas and the related reduction in force of 660 employees there, the company expects to eliminate a total of 2,500 positions in its mortgage operations as a result of these actions by year-end 2004.
The impact of this decision on the company's wholesale and correspondent lending channels across the nation is minimal.
In its wholesale channel, through which Washington Mutual buys mortgages that are originated primarily by brokers, the company will remain active in non-signature as well as signature markets.
In the correspondent channel, through which Washington Mutual buys mortgages that are originated primarily by other financial institutions, the company also will remain active in non-signature as well as signature markets. However, the company plans to shift the emphasis of this business to focus on the production of higher margin mortgage products.
About Washington Mutual
With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At June 30, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $278.54 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,400 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamunewsroom.com
CONTACT: Washington Mutual Media Contacts: Adrian Rodriguez, 206-377-3268 or Alan Gulick, 206-377-3637 SOURCE: Washington Mutual