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W&W Deal Done

Wells Fargo & Co. has closed on its acquisition of Wachovia Corp. The move potentially creates a new No. 1 mortgage lender. Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp. completed its own acquisition.

Wells completed the acquisition on Wednesday, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday said.

The $15 billion deal, originally announced in October, was originally expected to cost San Francisco-based Wells $7 per share.

Wells is flush with capital as a result of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s October purchase of $25 billion in fixed-rate cumulative perpetual preferred stock under the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s capital purchase program.

Shares of the merged institution are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WFC. Combined assets total $1.4 trillion, while the combined entity has around $0.8 trillion in deposits and 48 million customers based on data reported by Wells as of Sept. 30.

Fitch Ratings said the acquisition transforms Wells “from a prominent western U.S. banking company to a dominant, national banking company with strong deposit market share and meaningful household penetration throughout its 39-state footprint,” a press release today said.

The acquisition creates a formidable challenger to the No. 1 U.S. residential mortgage lender: Bank of America Corp.

Reflecting the July 1 acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp., BoA reported $58 billion in third-quarter 2008 originations — more than any other U.S. residential lender.

Wells said third quarter production was $51 billion, while Wachovia reported $7 billion — potentially putting combined quarterly production around $58 billion.

The combined residential servicing portfolio was around $1.582 trillion based on data as of Sept. 30, 2008, with around $0.201 trillion at Wachovia and $1.381 trillion at Wells. Combined headcount was around 276,227 as of Sept. 30, including 117,227 Wachovia employees and 159,000 people at Wells.

Meanwhile, BoA completed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. yesterday, a Jan.1 announcement from Merrill said. An agreement for the $50 billion all-stock deal was originally reached in September.

Merrill Lynch’s mortgage-related subsidiaries First Franklin Financial Corp., NationPoint and Ownit Mortgage Solutions have all collapsed. It still owns special servicer Wilshire Credit Corp.

New No. 1?
With Citigroup Inc. out of the way, Wells Fargo & Co. is on its way to becoming the biggest U.S. mortgage orginator with its potential acquisition of Wachovia Corp. But a problem portfolio and a $60 billion lawsuit loom over the deal.

Merged Wells-Wachovia Could Challenge No. 1
Wachovia Corp. has scrapped a deal to be acquired by Citigroup Inc. and will instead be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. The W&W merger creates a formidable challenge to Bank of America Corp.’s potential standing as the No. 1 residential originator.

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