Acquisition-hungry Washington Mutual Inc. has doubled in size in the last year, hopes to double again soon through its contested bid for Great Western Financial Corp., and states plainly that an acquisition strategy permeates its business dealings - even ones so remotely connected to buying banks as outsourcing agreements.

"One of our core competencies is acquisitions," said Liane Wilson, executive vice president of the Seattle thrift. "In going about a contract and a negotiation, we wanted to follow our acquisition format because it has served us very successfully."

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