Independent TribuneNews, Top Wachovia deal hits close to home

Wachovia deal hits close to home

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No specifics yet on impact of sale in terms of possible job losses

By Ben McNeely
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It was only days ago that Wachovia Corp. appeared headed toward a deal with Morgan Stanley, a merger that would have moved a piece of staggering old Wall Street south and further established the Queen City as a new hub of the American financial system.

Instead, only Wall Street’s pain came to Charlotte’s Tryon Street.

Crushed by its disastrous 2006 acquisition of mortgage lender Golden West Financial Corp., Wachovia succumbed Monday to the global financial crisis, agreeing to sell its banking operations to New York’s Citigroup Inc. for a mere $2.1 billion in a deal arranged by federal regulators.

It was business as usual at the eight Wachovia branches in Cabarrus County, but it didn’t stave off the feeling of insecurity about the Charlotte-based bank’s troubles.

Wachovia spokeswoman Christina Shaw said customers could still access their accounts and deposits. As for layoffs, there was no news.

“The impact locally, I have no information about that,” Shaw said.

Wachovia has about 160 employees in Cabarrus County, Shaw said, 20,000 employees in the Charlotte region.

Cabarrus Chamber CEO John Cox said he was at Afton Ridge Shopping Center Tuesday morning, cutting the ribbon on a new Wachovia branch in Kannapolis.

“It is a serious cause for pause in the Charlotte region,” Cox said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of experience as a county dealing with job loss.”

Neither Wachovia nor Citigroup commented on any job cuts Tuesday, but Cox said the Wachovia acquisition has the potential to increase the number of highly-trained professionals looking for jobs and would “diminish the number of jobs absorbed in the region.”

Branches were open for business Monday and customers were in and out of the banks, making transactions.

When asked, many did not want to comment on the Citigroup buyout, but one couple from Kannapolis said they were scared.

“All this affects us,” they said, not wanting to release their names. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

• Contact reporter Ben McNeely: 704-789-9131. AP contributed to this report.


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