Kerry Killinger, the chairman of Washington Mutual Bank, almost sounded like an old-line thrift executive last week.

Announcing his purchase of American Savings Bank, Mr. Killinger expressed unabashed excitement about the possibilities for making and holding home loans. In fact, he vowed that the new, $42 billion-asset thrift would become California's largest mortgage lender, vaulting past leader BankAmerica Corp.

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