Wachovia Corp. executives are eligible to collect as much as $98.1
million in severance if
Wells Fargo & Co. completes its purchase of the Charlotte, N.C., bank
by Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing Monday.
The amounts, triggered by "change-in-control"
clauses in the executives' employment contracts, include $17.6 million
available to Ben Jenkins, vice chairman and president of the general bank,
and $20.3 million that could go to Steve Cummings, managing director of
corporate and investment banking, according to earlier filings.
The potential payouts could stoke more
emotion about the proposed merger as shareholders prepare to cast their
votes Dec. 23. Already the North Carolina state treasurer has labeled the
deal "highway robbery" and has said he would urge the state pension fund
to vote against the deal.
Separately on Monday, a Charlotte, N.C.,
judge heard arguments in a shareholder suit challenging Wachovia's
decision to grant more than 40% of the voting rights to Wells Fargo in the
form of preferred shares.
Wachovia also is coming off a third-quarter
loss of $23.88 billion, one of the largest ever posted by a U.S. company.
Company spokesman Christy Phillips-Brown
said not all 10 executives would accept the payments and the actual
amounts paid would be less than $98.1 million. For example, Senior
Executive Vice President David Carroll was eligible for $19.1 million, but
Mr. Carroll has decided to join Wells Fargo as senior executive vice
president of the wealth management group. His contract with Wells Fargo
supersedes his agreement with Wachovia, according to Monday's filing.
Wachovia Senior Executive Vice President
Jerry Enos, another member of the group of 10, also has decided to join
Wells Fargo in the technology and operations unit.
The list of 10 also won't include Chief
Executive Robert Steel, who didn't have a severance agreement, Ms.
Phillips-Brown said. Mr. Steel has decided against remaining with the
Write to Dan Fitzpatrick