Wells-Norwest Merger Completed

Wells Fargo & Company and Norwest Corporation said Monday they have completed their merger — creating the new Wells Fargo, a diversified financial services company.  The new company is headquartered in San Francisco and has $196 billion in assets, 15 million customers, 5,836 stores and almost 102,000 team members.  It ranks seventh in assets and third in the market value of its stock at September 30 among U.S. bank holding companies.

“We firmly believe this new company — which combines the best of both organizations — will become the premier financial services company in the United States and the leading banking franchise in the Midwest and Western United States,” said Dick Kovacevich, president and chief executive officer of the new company. “Our customers, communities, shareowners and team members all will benefit from this merger with greater convenience and a broader array of products and services.”

Added Kovacevich, “For our 15 million customers, nothing changes yet. Integrating systems is expected to take from six months to two years to complete.

“During the second half of next year, Norwest customers will begin seeing the Norwest name change to Wells Fargo on their stores, checks, statements and other materials.”

Paul Hazen, chairman of Wells Fargo, said the key to a successful integration will be execution. “We’re committed to the goal of doing it right so we can continue to provide outstanding customer service throughout the integration,” he said. “Dozens of transition teams comprised of hundreds of team members are committed to making sure we begin every discussion with what’s best for the customer and ensure the interests of our team members and shareholders are aligned.  We’re going to take our time.  We’re going to do it right.”

The combined franchise has 2,859 banking stores and covers 21 states from California to Ohio.  Norwest Mortgage — the nation’s leading originator and servicer of mortgages — has 824 stores and a presence in all 50 states. Norwest Financial — the premier consumer finance company in the hemisphere — has 1,349 stores in 47 states, all 10 Canadian provinces, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere internationally.

As previously announced, Wells Fargo’s Hazen is chairman, Norwest’s Kovacevich is president and chief executive officer, Norwest’s Les Biller is chief operating officer and vice chairman, and Wells Fargo’s Rod Jacobs is chief financial officer and vice chairman.

The four will work closely together and will be involved in all major decisions affecting the combined company.

Common stockholders of Wells Fargo receive 10 shares of common stock of Norwest in exchange for each share of Wells Fargo common stock.

Norwest’s stock symbol NOB has been retired — stock of the new company will now trade under the symbol WFC.  The two companies announced a definitive agreement June 8.  The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system approved the merger October 14; stockholders of both companies approved the merger October 20.

    The new company:
— ranks 1st in financial services stores in the Western Hemisphere,
— ranks 1st in mortgage originations and servicing,
— ranks 1st in Internet banking,
— ranks 1st in agricultural lending among U.S. banks,
— ranks 1st in student loans,
— ranks 1st in the number of small business loans among U.S. banks,
— ranks 1st in commercial real estate lending,
— ranks 1st in auto finance,
— ranks 1st among banks in insurance agency sales,
— ranks 3rd in the number of ATMs in the U.S,
— ranks 4th in middle-market lending among all banks,
— ranks 4th among all banks in mutual funds under management,
— ranks 3rd in market capitalization among U.S. bank holding companies,
— ranks 7th in assets among U.S. bank holding companies,
— is an industry leader in alternative banking strategy, developed by
Wells Fargo, and
— is an industry leader in community banking strategy, developed by
Norwest.

    Combined data (pro forma  9/30/98)
    Assets  (billions)                      $196
    Loans   (billions)                      $108
    Deposits (billions)                     $130
    Net income (billions – ytd)             $2.1
    Revenue (billions – ytd)                $15.3*
    Customers (millions)                    15
    Mortgage originations
     (billions – ytd)                       $75
    Mortgage servicing (billions)           $233
    Credit card loans (billions)            $6
    Consumer credit card accounts
     (millions)                             4
    Stores                                  5,836
    ATMs                                    6,065
    Market capitalization
     (billions – 9/30/98)                   $58.3
    Common shares outstanding (millions)    1,620
    Net interest margin (ytd)               5.88 %
    Team members                            101,591

    * — Interest income plus non-interest income

Wells Fargo is a $196 billion diversified financial services company providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through 5,836 stores in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere internationally.

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EDS – VISA Smart

EDS announced yesterday it is teaming with VISA to support the ‘VISA Smart’ global smart card initiative. ‘VISA Smart’  brings together the hardware, software and technology service providers under the VISA umbrella to help member financial institutions implement end-to-end smart card programs.  EDS, as a primary systems integrator for ‘VISA Smart’, will provide comprehensive systems integration, consulting, project management and implementation services to VISA members participating in the initiative. VISA predicts that smart cards will comprise one third of its card volume by the year 2002.

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Visa Holiday Magic

Some magic has just been added to your Visa card.  Every day from November 1 through December 31, 1998, Visa ([www.visa.com][1]) will randomly select a one-second magic moment when Visa card purchases are free regardless of the amount.

This new program, called Visa Magic Moments, will be promoted heavily on the radio, internet, in print media, in malls countrywide, and on television, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, beginning at 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day.

The premise is simple:  if the Visa processing time stamp for a cardholder’s purchase matches that day’s randomly selected, one-second Visa Magic Moment, they win. The winning cardholder will receive a special “Visa Magic Moments Winner” credit message on their next monthly Visa statement.

In addition to this magic, during the Visa Magic Moments campaign, Dell Computer ([www.dell.com/visa][2]) is offering a “moment” every day for purchases via the Internet; Best Buy is featuring a “moment” every hour on November 27 and 28; and Giant Food/Super G and Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts are offering a bonus to cardholders who’s winning purchase was made at their store locations.

For more information on Visa Magic Moments, including information on how to obtain official rules with full details, and instructions for entry without a purchase, call 800-266-6712, or visit [www.magic-everyday.com][3].

Bring a little magic into your holiday season.

[1]: http://www.visa.com/
[2]: http://www.dell.com/visa
[3]: http://www.magic-everyday.com/

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PointCast & VISA

PointCast Incorporated, the leading broadcaster of personalized news and information to business consumers, unveiled MarketPlace, a new e-commerce service for PointCast Network viewers.  MarketPlace was developed in partnership with Visa, the world’s best way to pay.  Through MarketPlace, business consumers can now research and purchase products and services from leading vendors in a variety of product categories.  MarketPlace serves as the e-commerce component of PointCast’s redesigned Web-based business resource center, EntryPoint, available today at .  MarketPlace is available at .

PointCast today also announced three key relationships with vendors that will be participating in MarketPlace:  Amazon.com, a leading online retailer, for comparison and one-stop shopping; Compare.Net, a leading Internet buyer’s guide, for product comparison and research; and Impulse! Buy Network, a leading Internet merchandising service, providing special offers on name-brand products and services.  These three technology relationships provide MarketPlace with advanced e-commerce capabilities, allowing enterprise professionals to search for the best price on business-related products and services such as office supplies, computer hardware, travel and more. MarketPlace also offers best buys on cars, books, flowers, gifts and other products.

“PointCast now offers a fully integrated service that business professionals can use as a valuable and useful commerce tool in the office,” said Don Albert, senior vice president of advertising sales and e-commerce at PointCast.  “Further, we have gathered a roster of blue chip partners and sponsors to offer our viewers a wide range of premium products and services.”

Advertising sponsors for MarketPlace include Acura, barnesandnoble.com, Compaq, Continental Airlines, Gateway, Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc., Microsoft and Toshiba.  In addition to Visa, PointCast’s EntryPoint sponsors include CareerPath.com, cars.com, Datek Online, Snap, U.S. Postal Service and Zip2.

“We have a strong partnership with PointCast, and we’re delighted that MarketPlace will be the first e-commerce destination for PointCast viewers,” said Todd Chaffee, executive vice president, Visa International.  “MarketPlace provides purchasers with utility and convenience, allowing them to find the products they need quickly and easily.”

MarketPlace Features Comparison Shopping and Special Offers for PointCast’s Active Online Shoppers and Buyers

MarketPlace allows enterprise professionals to search for the best price and take advantage of special offers on business-related products and services, including Computer Hardware, Computer Software, Electronics, Office Supplies and Travel.  MarketPlace also offers comparison shopping and special deals from categories such as Automobiles, Books, Clothing, Department Stores, Flowers & Gifts, Movies & Video, Music and more.  Across any of these categories, viewers can benefit from the following special services from Amazon.com, Compare.Net and Impulse! Buy Network:

* Comparison and one-stop shopping:  viewers can make more informed purchase decisions through comparison and one-stop shopping.  For example, when a viewer selects the “Computer Hardware” category to research a new PC and specifies desired product features, a list will be displayed of corresponding PCs of varying prices from Amazon.com’s network of merchant sites across the Web.  The viewer then simply clicks on the desired product to conduct an online transaction.

* Product comparison and research:  viewers can access Compare.Net’s database of comprehensive and up-to-date product information on everything from modems to recordable CD players.  For example, when a viewer chooses the “Office Supplies” category, Compare.Net allows the viewer to research and compare by price, brand, manufacturer, features, model number and more.  Viewers are also able to view classified ads, enter newsgroup discussions on products or click through to online retailers to purchase products.

* Special discount offers:  viewers benefit from one-click access to dynamically changing, category-specific special offers from more than 100 merchants participating in Impulse! Buy Network, including barnesandnoble.com, Egghead, Wal-Mart, J. Crew and Land’s End.  For example, when a viewer selects the “Computer Software” category of MarketPlace, Impulse! Buy Network will automatically display several special offers on computer software from Egghead, Software.net, CDW and more.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to introduce PointCast’s business users to the fun and ease of impulse shopping,” said Mark H. Goldstein, president and CEO of Impulse! Buy Network.  “By providing compelling, one-click-buy offers on name-brand products to PointCast viewers, we make online shopping come alive for them.”

The initial results from the 1998 PointCast Viewership Study, conducted by Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI), show that PointCast viewers are active online shoppers and buyers.  According to the study, which will be released next month, MRI found the following:

* 60.0% of PointCast viewers shopped for computer software, of which 58.7% made a purchase

* 54.5% of PointCast viewers shopped for computer hardware, of which 43.8% made a purchase

* 74.5% of PointCast viewers shopped for travel services, of which 43.4% made a purchase

* 50.1% of PointCast viewers shopped for books, of which 62.6% made a purchase

New Version of EntryPoint Combines E-commerce with Web-based Business Content

In addition to the new MarketPlace e-commerce service, version 2.0 of PointCast’s EntryPoint business resource center features Web-based business content, complimenting the business content available on the PointCast Network:

* Stock Market Update — a new comprehensive financial news site that lets viewers receive index and interactive performance charts from BigCharts, SEC filings from Edgar Online, market news, brokerage reports and company information from Zacks Investment Research, mutual fund information from Morningstar and more.

* Weather — a new in-depth weather center with content provided by AccuWeather and Weathernews that contains five-day international forecasts, weather reports for 3,000 cities, the ability to search for weather by city name, national weather summaries and breaking news and new maps for travel conditions, flight delays, air quality and pollen counts.

Viewers can also conduct general Web searches via the Snap Internet portal service, or conduct more specific searches such as job search via CareerPath and people search.  EntryPoint also offers seamless access to yellow pages, maps and directions via Zip2 and mail/package services from the U.S. Postal Service.  Viewers can access EntryPoint by clicking on the “Internet” button from within the PointCast Network Channel Viewer.

Company Background

PointCast Incorporated was founded in 1992 to provide current news and information services to viewers and corporations via the Internet and corporate intranets.  Since PointCast launched the PointCast Network in February 1996, the Company has won more than eighty industry awards and honors, including CNET’s Best Internet Application, PC Magazine’s Technical Excellence award and PC Computing’s Most Valuable Product award.  The PointCast Network can be downloaded for free at .

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Royal Bank WWF VISA

Canada’s Royal Bank and the World Wildlife Fund launched a new affinity card this weekend, which allow cardholders to contribute to the World Wildlife Fund with every purchase. The card was unmasked at the opening reception of WWF’s Panda Masquerade in Toronto, Saturday afternoon. The new card enables cardholders to collect points and rewards while supporting the cause.The new ‘Royal Bank World Wildlife Fund VISA’ cards will feature a panda or polar bear.

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Shopping But Not Buying

While over 15 million internet connected adults in the U.S. claim that they have researched mortgage and equity loan rates on-line, only about one-third then applied for a loan from a lender that they found on the internet. Further, only about one in five of these shoppers actually obtained a mortgage or equity loan as a result of an on-line search. These findings are included in a just released consumer-based study by Atlanta-based Brittain Associates of 1200 adults in the U.S. who regularly use the Internet. Brittain says a similar trend was seen among the 7.2 million consumers who searched the internet for rates on certificates of deposit or U.S. treasury bills. Only about one-third of this group bought a CD or T-bill from an institution that uses the internet as a marketing channel. However, by contrast, of the nearly 15 million consumers who shopped the internet for a new credit card, nearly three quarters actually applied for one or more cards that they found on-line.

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CheckFree Check Point Award

CheckFree  was named among the recipients of the first-ever Check Point Excellence Award, presented by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. , a worldwide leader in policy-based management for IP networks.  The Check Point Excellence Award recognizes companies that have demonstrated the most innovative and successful implementations of Check Point Software solutions, with winners spanning the consumer products, banking, government, advertising and publishing markets. The winning CheckFree implementation was the result of CheckFree and security solutions provider SecureIT teaming up to design a network security solution equivalent to that of a “steel vault.”

Using the market-leading Check Point FireWall-1 and Check Point Real Secure, CheckFree and SecureIT developed a robust security solution with high availability and reliability capable of supporting online services for some of the nation’s largest banks.  Check Point Real Secure is the leading intrusion detection product from Check Point’s OPSEC (Open Platform for Secure Enterprise Connectivity) partner Internet Security Systems (ISS).

“CheckFree’s deployment of Check Point Software products is a great model of how organizations are using technology to design real business solutions,” said Deborah Triant Rieman, president and chief executive officer of Check Point Software Technologies, Inc.  “The Check Point Excellence Award gives us an opportunity to publicly recognize CheckFree for its outstanding innovation.”

“CheckFree is very pleased to be among the first companies to receive this prestigious award,” said Jeff Reich, vice president and chief security officer for CheckFree.  “We always strive to be on the cutting-edge of solutions that will help our clients maintain the most secure environment for handling their customers’ confidential account information.”

The criteria for receiving a Check Point Excellence Award included: innovation of implementation using Check Point Software solutions; quantitative demonstration of how the deployments provided a return on investment to the business; enterprise-wide implementation focus; and use of multiple Check Point Software and third-party OPSEC products.

Other Check Point Excellence Award winners were The Boston Globe, The Clorox Company, The Forum Corporation and UUNET Technologies, Kansas Bureau of Investigation and FishNet Consulting Inc., and MacManus Group and Dataway Inc.

About Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. is a leading provider of policy- based management solutions for IP networks.  The company is dedicated to enabling secure, reliable, and manageable business communications through its products, which include the world’s leading enterprise security suite, FireWall-1(R); the industry’s leading VPN family of solutions, VPN-1; the industry’s premier bandwidth management solution, FloodGate-1; and Meta IP, the leading network and IP address management software.  The company has U.S. headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., and international headquarters in Ramat-Gan, Israel. For product information, please call (800) 429-4391 or (650) 628-2000, or visit their Web site at .

About CheckFree

Founded in 1981, CheckFree (), the operating subsidiary of CheckFree Holdings Corporation, is the leading provider of financial electronic commerce services, softwared related products for more than 2.5 million consumers, 1,000 businesses and 850 financial institutions. CheckFree designs, develops and markets services that enable its customers to make electronic payments and collections, automate paper-based recurring financial transactions and conduct secure financial transactions on the Internet.

Check Point, the Check Point logo, FireWall-1, FireWall-1 SecuRemote, FireWall-First!, OPSEC, INSPECT, VPN-1, UAP, FloodGate-1 and IQ Engine are trademarks or registered trademarks of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Meta IP and Meta DNS are trademarks of MetaInfo Inc.

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VISA Magic

VISA introduced ‘VISA Magic Moments’ this morning, a multi-million dollar fourth-quarter promotion. Through ‘VISA Magic Moments’, each day through Dec. 31, VISA will randomly select a one-second magic moment when VISA card purchases are free, regardless of the amount. The promotion will be supported by an extensive advertising campaign including a national television “ad roadblock” appearing on 5 networks at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to alert consumers of additional “magic moments” over the biggest shopping weekend of the year.  An outdoor teaser campaign broke in the top-10 U.S. markets on October 15.  Additional advertising will appear nationally on radio, the Internet and in malls across the country. Throughout the promotion, local newspaper advertisements will feature winners.

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ClickMiles

San Francisco-based ClickRewards announced this morning the ‘Buy & Fly Holiday Bonus’ online shopping promotion. ClickRewards will offer Internet shoppers 65 million bonus ‘ClickMiles’, the equivalent of 1,000 times around the world.  The ‘Buy & Fly Holiday Bonus’ ends December 30. To qualify, online shoppers simply buy gifts at their favorite online retailers such as barnesandnoble.com, MSN Shopping Channel, Music Boulevard, OfficeMax.com, Preview Travel, and SkyMall.  Shoppers can earn up to 10,000 bonus ‘ClickMiles’ and shoppers who use mileage credit cards can “triple dip”, or earn miles from the merchant, bonus miles from ‘ClickRewards’ and miles on their credit card.

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Natl Online Week

Online retailers announced a joint effort Friday to raise consumer awareness about safe Internet transactions by declaring November 27 to December 4 ‘National Online Shopping Week’. Among the organizations spearheading the campaign geared toward boosting confidence and interest in online shopping, are MasterCard International, EZSpree, shop.org, the association of leading online retailers and The Association for Interactive Media. During the campaign, consumers can visit [http://www.OnlineShoppingWeek.com][1] for payment security information, advice about shopping online, links to participating merchants and the opportunity to participate in an online shopping survey. Merchants participating in ‘National Online Shopping Week’ are required to adhere to the latest in secure transaction protocols and are asked to offer consumer incentives ranging from free shipping on items purchased during ‘National Online Shopping Week’ to 10% discounts, free wrapping paper, special gifts and donations to national charities.  Participating merchant sites will display a ‘National Online Shopping Week’ logo and/or run ‘National Online Shopping Week’ advertising banners on their sites as well as contribute useful information to http://www.OnlineShoppingWeek.com.

[1]: http://www.onlineshoppingweek.com

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Sub-Prime Mess

Los Angeles-based, sub-prime specialist Bank Plus Corp. and its subsidiary, Fidelity Federal Bank, said this morning that they have terminated agreements with one of their affinity credit card marketers, MMG Direct, Inc. The company also announced that American Direct Credit LLC, another affinity credit card marketer for Bank Plus/FFB, has agreed to wind down originations under its affinity credit card program. As of Sept. 30 the Bank Plus portfolio had about 344,000 total credit card accounts with outstanding balances of approximately $315 million, of which MMG and ADC together accounted for approximately 93% of such balances. The decision to terminate the programs follows the fact that total delinquencies for the credit card portfolio at the end of Sept. were 16.9%, compared to 11.9% at June 30. Delinquencies at the end of Sept. for the MMG and ADC programs were 19.5% and 15.7%, respectively, compared to 8.6% and 14.6%, respectively, as of June 30.

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