Wells Fargo CEO unsure how many jobs will be cut

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Wells Fargo & Co. chief executive John Stumpf said Wednesday he does not know how many jobs will be cut as his bank absorbs Wachovia Corp., but he said it was a priority to keep losses at a minimum.

Stumpf said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer that he expects job cuts to begin this year and extend over a period of about three years as the two companies slowly integrate.

"I can tell you there will be duplicative jobs and there will be job loss, I know that," Stumpf said. "How many that will be, I do not know. I'm a big pro-jobs person, and the more customers we have, the more jobs we need, the more space we need to have our people, so all of that works together."

Stumpf told the newspaper that the company has already frozen new hiring and posted open jobs within the company.

The San Francisco-based bank now employs more than 20,000 workers in Charlotte, where Wachovia based its operations. Wells Fargo completed its purchase of Wachovia at the end of December in a $12.7 billion deal.

The combination of Wells Fargo and Wachovia creates one of the nation's largest banks with more than $1.42 trillion in assets and nearly $800 million in deposits. The deal helps expand Wells Fargo's footprint, especially along the East Coast.

New York-based Citigroup had initally agreed to buy Wachovia's banking operations for $2.1 billion - a firesale price that underscored the weight of a toxic mortgage portfolio that Wachovia was struggling to carry. But Wells Fargo stepped in four days later with a higher offer that did not rely on support from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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