Wells Fargo, CitiGroup vying for Wachovia

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Before visions of turning Wachovia signs into the Wells Fargo stagecoach across the Southeast could take hold, CitiGroup is crying foul about this morning’s sudden announcement by the banking giant’s merger.

Last night, Wachovia and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo agreed to a $15.1 billion all-stock deal that would have made Wells Fargo a 6,675-branch bank with $713 billion in deposits, the largest in the country.

Within hours of announcing the merger this morning, CitiGroup made a statement that its merger agreement with Wachovia from Monday prevented Wachovia from entering into any other deals.

CitiGroup was negotiating the purchase of only Wachovia’s banking division. The Wells Fargo bid was for all of Wachovia.

Wachovia has 22 branches in the Augusta area and employs 320 people. It is the largest bank in Augusta with $1.7 billion in deposits.

According to the Wells Fargo’s statement, it planned to maintain an east coast headquarters in Charlotte and keep the investment headquarters in St. Louis.

Wells Fargo has 3,327 banking locations in the country, all but a handful west of the Mississippi River. Wachovia has 3,348 branches, mostly along the Southeast and Atlantic Coast.

Neither bid has been approved by federal banking regulators nor Wachovia’s shareholders.

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