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CHARLOTTE, NC-In a surprising move ending a tumultuous week,locally based Wachovia Corp. has agreed to be purchased by SanFrancisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. for $15.1 billion. The deal,approved by both banks' boards Thursday night, negates the need fora pendingtakeover by New York City-based Citigroup Inc. that wasarranged by the FDIC over the past weekend and would have includeda $42-billion bailout of Wachovia's loan losses.

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"This deal enables us to keep Wachovia intact and preserve thevalue of an integrated company, without government support,"Wachovia Chairman and CEO Bob Steel said in a statement issuedearly Friday morning. "The market presence and composition of ourbusinesses, along with our service-oriented cultures, areextraordinarily complementary and this combination creates greatpotential for sustained stability and growth."

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Wachovia and Wells Fargo have an almost equal number of officesacross the US, with more than 10,000 combined, though there islittle overlap in their territories, with Wachovia dotting theeastern landscape while Wells Fargo is primarily a western bank.Some redundancy could occur in Texas and California, where Wachoviaabsorbed hundreds of branches in previous bank buyouts over thepast several years.

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Wells Fargo's offer amounts to $7 per share to Wachoviastockholders, far better than the FDIC-arranged Citi deal amountingto little more than a dollar each. Wells Fargo had been the onlyother US-based bank bidding for Wachovia when talk of a possibletakeover began last Friday.

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Wachovia's headquarters in Charlotte will remain in place as anEast Coast operations base for the combined company's retail,commercial and corporate banking business; St. Louis will remain asthe headquarters for Wachovia Securities; and three of Wachovia'sexecutives will join Wells Fargo's board. The combined assets ofthe bank will exceed $1.4 trillion.

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