Citigroup to buy, rescue Wachovia

Image by Flickr user mre770Image by 20080929wachovia.jpg Wachovia's Georgia headquarters.

Latest updates are at the bottom.

After fears rose that big bank Wachovia could also tank, regulators helped push through an agreement for Citigroup to acquire of Wachovia.

Granted, this is a bit outside of our local coverage promise, but with some 30 local branches we know there'll be a lot of concern. On the upside, they're saying there will be no interruptions in service and folks can expect banking as normal. From The New York Times:
“This morning’s decision was made under extraordinary circumstances with significant consultation among the regulators and Treasury,” said Sheila C. Bair, the chairwoman of the F.D.IC in a statement. “This action was necessary to maintain confidence in the banking industry given current financial market conditions.”

Wachovia customers should not notice any changes. “There will be no interruption in services and bank customers should expect business as usual,” Ms. Bair added.

Back in April the company had announced it was moving 150 jobs into downtown Columbia. The announcement was also a show of support for the downtown that's had a number of exits, and the Wachovia selloff could obviously damage that situation.

The New York Times has an excellent write-up of who, what, why, and how. Go read it.

The new bank would have 9.8% of the United State's deposits.

Update 10 p.m: Lowcountry Bloggers rounded up the much of local online reaction to the news. Essentially: Folks are none too thrilled on the prospect of a handful of banks controlling so much of the country's money.

The Charleston Regional Business Journal also has some good insight on how the move will likely take more banks from our state's rural communities.

Update September 30: The Post and Courier has expanded on the closing a bit and, most interestingly, remind us that the deal will affect us in other ways. For instance, Wachovia is based in Charlotte, but Citigroup is based in New York, meaning there could be less involvement by Citigroup with the Lowcountry's festivals.

But that may be little more than a technicality, as the worsening banking market has already caused the bank to scale back on many events.

For the past 14 years Wachovia has donated $100,000 to help Spoleto Festival USA, that amount is presumably on the rocks.

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