Some people collect stuff, like baseball cards or fine art.
Washington Mutual Inc. Chief Executive Kerry K. Killinger collects savings and loans, and he's elevated it to a fine art.
In the decade since the securities-analyst-turned-banker became president of Washington Mutual, the Seattle-based institution has bought more than 20 other financial companies that have boosted corporate assets more than fourteenfold.
The biggest gulps have taken place in the last 18 months in the competitive California market: In 1996 it bought American Savings and last year purchased Great Western Financial--the latter yanked from the jaws of H.F. Ahmanson & Co., which Washington Mutual said Tuesday it also has agreed to buy.
"Killinger has pulled off a brilliant series of acquisitions over the last 10 years," said thrift analyst Jonathan Gray of Sanford C. Bernstein in New York. "Washington Mutual is moving at a very rapid pace."