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Biggest Lender Shakes Up Organization

The co-president of Wells Fargo & Co.’s mortgage unit is retiring. The move comes as the biggest residential lender in the country reorganizes.

In a statement released Tuesday, the San Francisco-based company said it has created Wells Fargo Consumer Lending.

Avid Modjtabai has been named senior executive vice president and head of the new consumer lending group. She has been with Wells Fargo for 18 years, most recently as senior EVP, chief information officer and head of the enterprise-wide technology and operations group. Prior to that Modjtabai had been in charge of the Internet services and human resources organizations.

Replacing Modjtabai is Kevin Rhein. The executive was promoted from his position as EVP and head of the card services and consumer lending group.

Both Modjtabai and Rhein report directly to Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf, who noted in the announcement that the reorganization comes as the company completes the integration of Wachovia Corp.

“Consolidating our consumer lending activities under one organization reflects our focus on putting customers at the center of everything we do, growing revenue, increasing our expense discipline and operating efficiencies, and doing so in ways that reflect our ‘Vision & Values’ and the high value we place on strong relationships with key stakeholders,” Stumpf stated.

Included in the new group are Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and the company’s home-equity division as well as other consumer lending businesses.

The news release indicated that Cara Heiden, who is co-president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, is retiring during the next few months.

“Under her leadership, Wells Fargo’s direct-to-consumer mortgage loans have sustained a leading national position for more than 13 consecutive years,” Stumpf said of Heiden in the news release. “Her legacy includes being at the forefront of leading change for the mortgage industry, working with government officials and consumer advocates on efforts to help stabilize the nation’s housing market.”

With $387 billion in residential originations during 2010, Wells Fargo was the biggest residential lender last year. The company has maintained its No. 1 standing so far this year with $148 billion in first-half volume.

Heiden’s exit leaves Wells Fargo Home Mortgage co-president Mike Heid as the lone president of the unit reporting to Modjtabai.

In May, Wells Fargo & Co. disclosed that Mark Oman, senior EVP and head of the home and consumer finance group, would retire this year. Both Heid and Heiden previously reported to Oman.

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