Wells bids on First Interstate

The Associated Press

NEW YORK Wells Fargo & Co. moved forward with its hostile bid for First Interstate Bancorp yesterday with a government filing that outlines its $10.83 billion offer for the nation's 14th-largest banking company.

First Interstate has already agreed to a friendly offer from First Bank System Inc., valued at $10.23 billion. Both offers are stock swaps and their values are based on yesterday's trading.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing, which was expected, states that if First Interstate shareholders reject First Bank System's offer, First Interstate shareholders could promptly exchange their shares for Wells Fargo shares and a merger could be completed by the end of March 1996.

''For First Interstate shareholders, this filing means that our offer will stand side by side against First Bank System's offer,'' Paul Hazen, chairman of Wells Fargo, said in a statement.

Wells argues its bid is a better deal and plans to push its proposal by presenting it directly to First Interstate's shareholders and ousting First Interstate's board, which supports a merger with First Bank.

The Wells offer is for the exchange 0.67 of its shares for each First Interstate share. First Bank System is offering 2.6 of its shares for each First Interstate share.

Either offer would rank as the biggest merger deal in history, outranking Chemical Banking Corp.'s planned merger with Chase Manhattan Corp.

Wells Fargo said it plans to file materials with the SEC to solicit proxies against the First Bank System merger within the next week.

First Interstate has said its board prefers a merger with First Bank because the deal has more long-term benefits and will lead to fewer layoffs in California.

A decision about which offer to take will ultimately be made by First Interstate's shareholders.

Wells Fargo's shares rose $1.121/2 to $213.371/2 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. First Interstate's were up 621/2 cents at $135, and First Bank System's rose 621/2 cents to $52.25.

Read Next Article