WaMu Makes JPMorgan $29 Billion as Shareholders Rail
Reports this morning are speculating that new accounting rules will allow JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) to gain an additional $29bn over the life of certain Washington Mutual loans, as shareholders in the seized bank are joining forces to criticize the handling of the entire affair. JPMorgan purchased WaMu assets when federal regulators seized the bank back in September. Now, new rules allow for fair value accounting to determine the worth of underlying collateral, though it is unclear at this point what type of assets are involved in these loans. Previously, JPMorgan would need to declare the value of those assets according to its value in the market. Considering the troubled nature of financials, the latter method is arguably more volatile. Using the former method, however, JPMorgan is able to mark down $118.2bn of assets by 25% equally and, as of yet, unrecorded $29.1m in pretax income over the life of the loan, according to Bloomberg. This morning, WaMu shareholders put out a joint statement declaring a rising concern on the way the feds are handling the seized bank. According to the text, they feel the regulators are setting dangerous precedents that will adversely affect the banking sector in the foreseeable future and these actions not just affect individual shareholders, but the financial sector in general. "The FDIC's fire-sale of Washington Mutual assets to JPMorgan changed the game for potential buyers of banks," says the statement. "The new rule seems to be: Get regulators to place the bank into receivership in order to buy the assets at a fire-sale price." The shareholders justify their stance by saying the same mishandling is happening in Florida, at BankUnited Financial Corp. (BKUNA): "Bidders for BankUnited Financial Corp waited on the side lines, hoping for the new form of behind the scenes bailout being offered by the FDIC--assets on the cheap. This has the potential to leave bondholders and shareholders out in the cold, just as was done with Washington Mutual Bank." A shareholder at BankUnited told HousingWire that he "criticized the FDIC and the new appointed members of the board of directors," at a meeting discussing the takeover of the bank. "Why couldn't the board look after the interest of the shareholders?" he asks. "They have an obligation and a fiduciary duty to look after the interest of the shareholders and they simply failed to do so." "We feel that the FDIC should give a small bone to the shareholders and avoid a future lawsuit, something very similar what happened to the takeover of Wachovia Bank with Wells Fargo Bank," he adds. "Unfortunately this did not happen and I am afraid that there will be lawsuits forthcoming." Write to Jacob Gaffney.