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Wells Fargo & Company  (WFC)
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    Sector  Financial    Industry Money Center Banks


Wells Fargo & Company

Business Description

Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company organized under the laws of Delaware and registered as a bank holding company and financial holding company under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (BHC Act). It was the fifth largest bank holding company in the United States. The Company engages in banking and a variety of related financial services businesses. Retail, commercial and corporate banking services are provided through banking stores in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Other financial services are provided by subsidiaries engaged in various businesses, principally: wholesale banking, mortgage banking, consumer finance, equipment leasing, agricultural finance, commercial finance, securities brokerage and investment banking, insurance agency services, computer and data processing services, trust services, mortgage-backed securities servicing and venture capital investment.

The Company consolidated banks with stores in six states (Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming) with and into Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., whose stores already serviced customers primarily in California. The Company completed the consolidation in February 2004, which also included transfers of certain stores in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

The Company is the product of the merger involving Norwest Corporation and the former Wells Fargo & Company, completed on November 2, 1998 (the WFC Merger). On completion of the WFC Merger, Norwest Corporation changed its name to Wells Fargo & Company.

Norwest Corporation was organized in 1929 under the laws of the State of Delaware. Prior to the WFC Merger, it provided banking services to customers in 16 states and additional financial services through subsidiaries engaged in a variety of businesses including mortgage banking and consumer finance.

The former Wells Fargo & Company’s principal subsidiary, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., was the successor to the banking portion of the business founded by Henry Wells and William G. Fargo in 1852. That business later operated the westernmost leg of the Pony Express and ran stagecoach lines in the western part of the United States. The California banking business was separated from the express business in 1905, merged in 1960 with American Trust Company, another of the oldest banks in the Western United States, and became Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a national banking association, in 1968.

In April 1996, the former Wells Fargo & Company acquired First Interstate Bancorp, a $55 billion bank holding company in a transaction valued at $11 billion. In October 2000, the Company acquired First Security Corporation, a $23 billion bank holding company in a transaction valued at $3 billion.

The Company expands its business, in part, by acquiring banking institutions and other companies engaged in activities that are financial in nature.


The financial services industry is highly competitive. The Company’s subsidiaries compete with financial services providers, such as banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, finance companies, mortgage banking companies, insurance companies, and money market and mutual fund companies. They also face increased competition from nonbank institutions such as brokerage houses and insurance companies, as well as from financial services subsidiaries of commercial and manufacturing companies. Many of these competitors enjoy fewer regulatory constraints and some may have lower cost structures.

Securities firms and insurance companies that elect to become financial holding companies may acquire banks and other financial institutions. Acquisitions of this type could significantly change the competitive environment in which the Company conducts business. The financial services industry is also likely to become more competitive as further technological advances enable more companies to provide financial services. These technological advances may diminish the importance of depository institutions and other financial intermediaries in the transfer of funds between parties.


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