BANKING & FINANCE

Times Staff and Wire Reports

U.S. Seeks Data on Wells Fargo Bid: First Interstate Bancorp, which is fighting Wells Fargo & Co.'s $10.8-billion hostile bid, said the Justice Department's antitrust division sought information on the effect that takeover would have on competition in the 37 of 48 California markets where the two banks have overlapping operations. As part of its offer, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has proposed selling some of the merged banks' businesses in 14 of those markets. The inquiry "raises serious questions" about Wells Fargo's plans to sell assets, said First Interstate Chief Executive William Siart. Wells Fargo did not immediately comment. Los Angeles-based First Interstate last month sought a $10.2-billion acquisition from First Bank System Inc., spurning the Wells bid.

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