Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Washington Mutual Closes The Barn Door

Washington Mutual (WAMU) closed the proverbial barn door after shareholders voted 51%plus to install a non employee as Chairman. WAMU announced on Monday it will replace Chief Executive Kerry Killinger as chairman of the board and take other steps to improve corporate governance.

After billions of dollars in losses the shareholders finally got it. Keep the positions of chairman and CEO/president separate. Kerry Killinger will remain on the board supposedly to keep explaining stuff.

While they may have seen the vote coming in the 11th hour the board probably did not see this as a blessed event. While most investors look at the company as a financial disaster story, it really is a corporate governance disaster story. Perhaps if even more so.

The press release also documented many other changes and Kerry Kilgour had the gall to offer this quote “"These actions underscore the board's long-standing commitment to good corporate governance and my personal commitment to improving the company's financial performance and delivering value to our shareholders,"

This company is floundering around and until a permanent CEO is put in and builds up his executive team the future will be uncertain. Of course there can be a sale to stronger hands but the shareholders will only see a fraction of the franchise value.