WaMu scrambles to stay alive; it may be trying to find buyer

With the wreckage from the nation's worst financial crisis piling up around it, Washington Mutual strove Wednesday to salvage itself, reportedly considering all options up to and including a sale of the entire company.

WaMu declined to comment on what it called "rumors and speculation." But its largest shareholder granted it a key financial concession — clearing the way for anything from a big capital infusion to an outright sale — and both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported investment bank Goldman Sachs has been shopping Seattle's biggest financial institution to potential buyers.

Any purchase of WaMu likely would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in Seattle, at a time when unemployment is rising and the local economy is generating few new jobs.

WaMu employs more than 3,500 people at its headquarters at Second Avenue and Union Street, along with 800 people elsewhere in Seattle and 1,500 people elsewhere in the state.

WaMu's options seemed to be narrowing almost hourly. With other troubled financial firms seeking buyers to avoid bankruptcy or federal takeover, fewer and fewer companies have both the means and the potential desire to buy WaMu.

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