Kerry Killinger, chief executive officer of Washington Mutual, swung by the New York headquarters of American Banker on Wednesday during a trip to visit investors. In a meeting with reporters and editors, he aired his strategies and views on the changing competitive landscape of the western United States. Excerpts follow.
It's a very fragmented market that we believe is going to go through a great consolidation, and the consolidation will tend to benefit strong performers that have the support of the capital markets and are in position to make acquisitions. We certainly intend to be one of those players.
On the chances of Washington Mutual eventually acquiring Ahmanson:
Well, we of course won't comment about specific acquisition targets or how things might play out on a specific basis. But when we are successful at Great Western, we will have a very powerful franchise, and will be operating at perhaps the leading financial level of anyone in our industry. And we expect a very strong stock price and currency as it relates to acquisition opportunities.
On First Bank System's acquisition of U.S. Bancorp:
We don't see it as having a particular impact on our strategies. We do see opportunities in the short run, with some dislocations in the market, with U.S. Bancorp becoming part of First Bank System. Our experience is that whenever a commercial bank merges with anyone, we gain market share.
On integrating Great Western:
When we went through due diligence, we built all of our business plans from the bottom up-how the specific systems and approaches that Great Western has would fit with what Washington Mutual has. We became increasingly confident that this is a very do-able deal, and that we will be able to carry it off on time and within budget.
On raising his bid to top Ahmanson's:
We have a bid that we are confident will be approved by shareholders. That's where we are right now.