Washington Mutual shareholders this afternoon approved the final step in a $7.2 billion bailout package that puts more than 50 percent of...

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Washington Mutual shareholders this afternoon approved the final step in a $7.2 billion bailout package that puts more than 50 percent of the company in the hands of an investor group led by private equity firm TPG.

The deal’s structure gave stockholders little choice — had they not given their approval, WaMu faced paying the group a $792 million dividend, with higher payments down the road.

More than 94 percent of shareholders approved the plan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual said today in a statement. The first part of the $7 billion package went through in April, when TPG bought 176 million shares at $8.75 a piece, a 33 percent discount at the time.

Outside WaMu’s downtown Seattle headquarters today, protesters organized by the Service Employees International Union dressed in hazmat suits to criticize what they called a “toxic deal.”

The union says it is concerned that private equity firms seeking quick profits from struggling lenders will “squeeze these returns from troubled banks through higher fees for bank customers, unfair lending practices, and exorbitant interest rates on credit cards and other consumer products.”