Citi announced on October 9 that it had reached no agreement with Wells Fargo following several days of discussions about matters related to Wachovia. The dramatic differences in the parties’ transaction structures and their views of the risks involved made it impossible to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
“We are proud to have been part of an historic transaction that was supported by all of the federal banking agencies and the Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the President, and that we carefully designed to avoid systemic stress and to advance the interests of our shareholders,” the company says.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo and Wachovia stand by their plans to merge the two companies, including all of Wachovia’s banking and securities brokerage operations in a whole-company transaction requiring no financial assistance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or any other government agency. In its latest reports, Wachovia Securities said it had some 14,600 financial advisors with a Series 7 license.
Under the agreement, Wells Fargo will acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of Wachovia in a stock-for-stock transaction. In the transaction, Wells Fargo will acquire all of Wachovia Corporation and all its businesses and obligations, including its preferred equity and indebtedness, and all its banking deposits.
Under terms of the agreement, which has been approved unanimously by the boards of both companies, Wachovia shareholders will receive 0.1991 shares of Wells Fargo common stock in exchange for each share of Wachovia common stock. The transaction, based on Wells Fargo’s closing stock price of $35.16 on October 2, 2008, is valued at $7.00 per Wachovia common share for a total transaction value of approximately $15.1 billion. Wachovia has almost 2.2 billion common shares outstanding. The agreement requires the approval of Wachovia shareholders and customary approvals of regulators.
Wells Fargo will record Wachovia’s credit-impaired assets at fair value. The acquisition is expected to exceed Wells Fargo’s internal rate of return goal and add to Wells Fargo’s earnings per share in the first year of operations, excluding integration costs, writedowns, transaction charges, and credit reserve build. Wells Fargo expects to incur merger and integration charges of approximately $10 billion. To maintain its strong capital position, Wells Fargo intends to issue up to $20 billion of new Wells Fargo securities, primarily common stock.
“We at Wachovia have great admiration and respect for the people and businesses at Wells Fargo and we are extremely pleased to join forces with this outstanding company,” says Robert K. Steel, President and CEO of Wachovia Corp. “Today’s announcement creates one of the strongest financial firms in the world and is great for all Wachovia constituencies: our shareholders, customers, colleagues and communities. This deal enables us to keep Wachovia intact and preserve the value of an integrated 3 company, without government support. The market presence and composition of our businesses, along with our service-oriented cultures, are extraordinarily complementary and this combination creates great potential for sustained stability and growth.”
“This agreement represents a compelling value for Wachovia shareholders,” explains Wells Fargo Chairman Dick Kovacevich. “It provides superior value compared to the previous offer to acquire only the banking operations of the company and because Wachovia shareholders will have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the growth and success of a combined Wachovia-Wells Fargo that will be one of the world’s great financial services companies. We are combining the industry’s number one ranking customer service culture of Wachovia with the industry’s number one sales and crossselling culture of Wells Fargo. The best in service and the best in sales, an unbeatable combination. Wachovia shareholders also will benefit from holding the stock of a strong financial institution, the U.S. bank with the highest credit ratings and with a long history of increasing dividends on its common stock.
“Wachovia’s brokerage and asset management businesses, which would have been left behind in the prior proposal, are tightly interwoven with Wachovia’s core banking business – and this agreement avoids the complexity and unavoidable loss of value in trying to separate them, which would have disrupted Wachovia’s team members and customers,” Kovacevich says. “We also bring to this merger agreement our 157 years of experience in financial services and the unparalleled convenience we can offer Wachovia customers through one of the most extensive financial services distributions systems in North America. We have the highest regard for the quality and commitment and caring of Wachovia team members. We believe their demonstrated commitment to outstanding customer service and their highest standards of community leadership are identical to our own values. And, of course, this agreement won’t require even a penny from the FDIC.”
The combined company will have a strong presence in Charlotte, according to Wells Fargo, which will be the headquarters for the combined company’s East Coast retail and commercial and corporate banking business. St. Louis will remain the headquarters of Wachovia Securities. In addition, three members of the Wachovia Board will be invited to join the Wells Fargo & Company Board when the transaction is completed.
Kovacevich adds: “This agreement is an outstanding opportunity for Wachovia common and preferred shareholders and debt holders, team members and customers, for the Charlotte and St. Louis communities and indeed all of the communities that Wachovia serves, and for the U.S. government and our banking system. It makes compelling business and strategic sense and is simply an incredible fit that will result in an immensely strong, stable financial services company that will carry on Wachovia’s proud tradition of being one of the very best financial institutions in the world.”
“We know this has been a time of great uncertainty for Wachovia team members and many of its customers as their company has gone through a very painful and challenging time of unprecedented change in our industry,” said Wells Fargo President and CEO John Stumpf. “We want to assure them we’ll do everything we can to make the integration of our operations as smooth as possible. An important measure of success for this integration will be our ability to retain as many of the talented Wachovia team members as possible so they can continue to provide outstanding service and financial advice to their customers and continue their careers with Wells Fargo.”
For its part, Citi says that the transaction involving the banking operations of Wachovia, which it remains willing to complete, protected Wachovia’s holding company debt and its subsidiary banks, while limiting the risk to Citigroup and generating value for its shareholders. The transaction also preserved substantial value for Wachovia’s shareholders and other holding company stakeholders without exposing Citigroup to Wachovia holding company liabilities it declined to assume. Finally, Citigroup agreed to pay $12 billion to the FDIC, and to incur up to $42 billion of losses, in exchange for the contingent loss protection the FDIC agreed to provide.
Citi believes that it has strong legal claims against Wachovia, Wells Fargo and their officers, directors, advisors and others for breach of contract and for tortious interference with contract. Citigroup plans to pursue these damage claims vigorously on behalf of its shareholders. However, Citigroup has decided not to ask that the Wells Fargo-Wachovia merger be enjoined.
As Citi CEO Vikram Pandit explains: “We did not seek the Wachovia transaction; Wachovia brought it to us. Our focus remains on capitalizing on our global strengths. We will continue to apply the same discipline we employed in this and other recent transactions to future acquisition opportunities. We will redouble the focus on our five core businesses and continue to demonstrate strong capital and risk management supported by continuously improving expense control. We are committed to affirming Citi’s position as a leading global financial institution.
“There has been strong affirmation of Citi’s global universal banking model. Citi has a large and diversified deposit base, a strong capital ratio, solid liquidity and tremendous assets. This strength, as well as the company’s commitment to managing risk, has made Citi a favored counterparty during this period,” Pandit says.
Under the terms of the agreement-in-principle, Citi agree to pay Wachovia approximately $2.16 billion in stock and assume Wachovia senior and subordinated debt, totaling about $53 billion. The transaction was expected to close before year-end. At this time, there were to be no changes to Wachovia’s board of directors and two Wachovia directors planned to join Citigroup’s board. Citi is seeking some $60 billion in damages from the failed transaction with Wachovia.
Under the Citi deal, Wachovia Corp. was to remain headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., and Wachovia Securities in St. Louis, Mo., where it relocated after merging with A.G. Edwards.
Citi agreed to acquire more than $700 billion of assets of Wachovia’s banking subsidiaries, and related liabilities. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) agreed to provide loss protection in connection with approximately $312 billion of mortgage-related and other Wachovia assets.