Federal regulators approve purchase of NBA

Posted: Thursday, June 22, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Federal regulators have approved Wells Fargo & Co.'s $1 billion purchase of National Bank of Alaska.

The Federal Reserve Board gave the go-ahead Wednesday for Wells Fargo to buy the 84-year-old Alaska bank.

But don't expect NBA to vanish overnight. The transition will happen slowly over the next year.

The NBA name, its computer system and accounts won't change over to Wells Fargo until about May 2001, said Greg Cook, a transition manager for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.

What customers will notice in the coming weeks are expanded brokerage and insurance services and access to Wells Fargo's ATM network in the Lower 48.

''For the majority of our customers, it will be pretty much business as usual,'' said Elaine Junge, NBA's spokeswoman. ''We will be a Wells Fargo company, but we will still operate as National Bank of Alaska.''

The U.S. Department of Justice has 15 days to review the decision, but it is not expected to object, said Dave Skidmore, a Federal Reserve spokesman.

NBA and Wells Fargo plan to close the deal in mid-July, Cook said. p When Wells Fargo takes over, it will become Alaska's biggest bank, managing nearly $3 billion in assets and 45 percent of all bank deposits in the state. Wells Fargo is the nation's seventh largest banking company, with $222 billion in assets.

The sale of NBA is occurring in an era of multimillion-dollar sales of big Alaska companies, from grocery stores to oil companies to telecommunications businesses.

Not everybody is happy about it.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group and several other groups challenged the NBA takeover in part over concerns that Wells Fargo could close branches in rural Alaska. Wells Fargo has told the Federal Reserve Board that it does not plan to close branches.

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