Pioneer Savings Bank of Lynnwood, Wash., proved to be one of the thrift industry's most ardently pursued brides when it put itself on the block last year.

The highly, profitable thrift, which has $891 million in assets and 17 branches, agreed in August to marry Washington Mutual Savings Bank. The dowry: a $180 million stock swap.

Before accepting, however, Pioneer practically had to fight off suitors, says its chief executive, Raloph V. Schapler. Among its callers: U.S. Bancorp, Portland, Ore.; First Interstate Bancorp, Los Angeles; and West One Bancorp, Boise, Idaho.

"We were having inquiry after inquiry," recalls Mr. Schapler, who used Montgomery Securities to solicit offers. "The discussions were coming so thick and so heavy."

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