Washington Mutual Inc., still in the midst of buying H.F. Ahmanson & Co., seems to be preparing for another deal.

The Seattle thrift company will seek permission from shareholders to double, to 1.6 billion, its shares outstanding, according to proxy materials filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Stock is regularly used as currency for acquisitions.

The request is in line with the company's announced plans for more purchases, as well as de novo branches, to expand its operations.

Shareholders will vote on the plan Aug. 28. At the same time, they will consider Washington Mutual's request to issue 209 million shares, worth about $9.4 billion, to pay for Ahmanson, a deal expected to close this fall. Washington Mutual will pay $1 million in fees to issue stock for the Ahmanson deal, the proxy said.

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