For private-equity investors who bought shares in struggling banking companies this year, the goal was clear: Secure a stake in solid, though temporarily troubled, operation whose shares were available at bargain prices.

As the market has lurched from one piece of bad news to the next, initial investments by these funds have fallen sharply, and this week TPG Inc., which sunk $7 billion into Washington Mutual Inc. in April, said it was willing to forgo the so-called reprice clause, which would have paid the Fort Worth company additional compensation if Wamu raised more capital or pursued a deal. The Seattle thrift company is reportedly in negotiations to sell itself.

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