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Ahmanson Sues GW for Stockholders List

March 05, 1997|From Bloomberg News

In its escalating bid for control of Great Western Financial Corp., H.F. Ahmanson & Co. on Tuesday sued the Chatsworth-based company, demanding a list of its shareholders.

Great Western spokesman Charles Coleman said the suit is unnecessary. Great Western expects to deliver by Thursday whatever books and records it is required by law to hand over, he said.

The full text of the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court, wasn't immediately available. Ahmanson stock fell 25 cents to close at $41.375, while Great Western shares rose 25 cents to close at $44. Both trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Great Western, the No. 2 U.S. thrift, has yet to respond to the $6-billion hostile offer Ahmanson made Feb. 17.

Great Western has been courting friendly bids from other banks in the meantime. Analysts have cited a number of possible suitors, including Washington Mutual Inc., the Seattle thrift whose chief executive on Tuesday said it is ready to make another big acquisition.

Washington Mutual's Kerry Killinger said the thrift has made enough progress absorbing last year's $1.2-billion takeover of Santa Ana-based American Savings Bank that it could afford such a move.

"We are in terrific shape for further expansion," Killinger said at an investment conference in Seattle. "I would always prefer larger deals to smaller ones."

Killinger declined to comment on whether Washington Mutual is considering a bid for GW. The two are about the same size, with about $42 billion in assets. Washington has the processing systems and other so-called platforms it needs to double its size, Killinger said.

He said he would not consider any acquisition that would hurt per-share earnings.

Washington Mutual shares have fallen as much as 12% since Feb. 21 on speculation that it might agree to acquire Great Western. Its shares rose $1.31 on Tuesday to close at $53.19 on Nasdaq.

Killinger said Washington Mutual would consider an expansion anywhere in the Northwest, though California would be the most likely place to make a move.

"The greatest number of opportunities are in California," he said.

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