Wachovia, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, purchased Birmingham's SouthTrust Bank in 2004. The company operated a nationwide financial services network with assets of over $706 billion and deposits of over $408 billion. In September 2008, Wachovia had 38 branches in the metro area, employees on about nine floors of the 34-story Wachovia Tower and more at a call center in Homewood at Wildwood, and a $400 million data center in the Oxmoor Valley.
In 2008, Wachovia was hit hard in the 2008 national financial crisis. Its troubles stemmed primarily from the 2006 acquisition of California mortgage lender Golden West Financial Corp, which specialized in sub-prime mortgages. On September 29, 2008, Wachovia Corp agreed to sell its banking operations to New York-based Citigroup, Inc. in a takeover orchestrated with help from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Former Southtrust shareholders would have been left with stock in a company that consisted of Wachovia Securities retail brokerage and Evergreen Investments. However, on October 3, Wells Fargo Co. of San Francisco, California announced that it would be acquiring the complete Wachovia Corp portfolio, without assistance from the FDIC, for $7 per share.
When the Wells Fargo deal was approved, that bank doubled in size and became the largest in the country. Citigroup immediately challenged the acquisition, and a New York judge put the Wells Fargo deal on hold pending litigation. Controversy centered around the question of whether Wachovia colluded with Wells Fargo to undermine the pending deal with Citigroup. Possible links between the boards of both banks and Vulcan Materials raised suspicions. Nevertheless, Citigroup later dropped its challenge, and Wells Fargo was able to acquire Wachovia, closing on the acquisition on January 1, 2009. The two banks continued to operate as separate entities until late 2009.
Wells Fargo named Daryl Harmon as regional president over Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. The 25-year veteran moved from California to Atlanta, Georgia in January 2009.
- Hubbard, Russell (September 30, 2008) "Wachovia sells banking operation to Citigroup." Birmingham News
- Hubbard, Russell (October 4, 2008) "Everything must go: Wachovia sells to Wells Fargo." Birmingham News
- Staff (January 21, 2009) "Wells Fargo bases community banking boss in Atlanta." Birmingham News