Shareholders overwhelmingly approve sale of NBA to Wells Fargo

Posted: Friday, June 09, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the sale of the National Bank of Alaska to Wells Fargo and Co.

More than 99 percent of the National Bankcorp shareholders who gathered here Thursday OK'd the deal. The vote moved quickly, taking only about 40 minutes.

It formalized a decision made in December -- the sale of Alaska's largest and oldest bank to the San Francisco-based financial institution, the seventh-largest U.S. banking company.

Chairman Edward Rasmuson, the third generation in his family to lead NBA since 1919, summed up the past 81 years at the annual shareholders meeting: ''It's been one hell of a great ride, I can tell you that.''

But the NBA sale can't be thrown into the history books yet.

The Federal Reserve Board still must approve the estimated $1.2 billion deal, which could happen as early as next week.

Several consumer-advocacy groups have protested the sale, in part over concerns that NBA's services might deteriorate in rural Alaska once Wells Fargo takes control.

Thursday's vote was more or less a formality because the Rasmuson family owns more than 55 percent of the NBA stock, worth about $667 million. Their ''yes'' votes ensured the deal's approval.

The decision followed years of on-and-off discussions with other large banks. That includes Midwest banking company Norwest Inc., which merged with Wells Fargo in 1998 and adopted its name.

The $222 billion financial powerhouse offers banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer financing at almost 6,000 branches in North America and on the Internet.

The decision for NBA to sell was due in part to sweeping changes in the banking industry, especially the growing trend to consolidate banks, investment and insurance firms into financial superstores, Rasmuson said.

He has often said he doesn't want NBA to be left behind in the changing industry.

Wells Fargo plans to change the bank's name next year after it converts NBA's computer system.

Wells Fargo has said it plans to keep all of NBA's 55 branches open around Alaska.

One possible drawback to the sale is that up to 175 of the bank's 1,250 jobs will be eliminated. But nearly all NBA employees should be offered jobs by Wells Fargo because some will be retiring while others will be moving to different positions, the banks said.

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