From state Treasurer Richard Moore:
Last week's news cycle began with stories about powerful leaders in Washington lining up to support a bailout of our automakers. The emphasis was on saving good jobs. In this economy, it is hard to imagine a nobler mission. Yet at the same time, our federal government is actually trying to put one of our countries' great employers out of business, one that employs more people than General Motors.
Wachovia provides 110,000 employees with good jobs, including 35,000 in North Carolina. These are the kind of jobs on which you can raise a family. Unlike Detroit's automakers, Wachovia's business model, while distressed right now, is not broken and does not face the same outsourcing pressures. One day soon, good banks will be making money again, and make no mistake about it, our nation's fourth largest bank is a good one. But our government's arbitrary regulators demanded the end of an independent Wachovia just a few days before it bailed out the rest of the industry, denying shareholders the true value of their investment and shredding thousands of jobs in the process.
It is just plain wrong for the federal government to pick winners and losers in this fashion. But I do not believe it is too late to reverse this course to fight for an independent Wachovia. Not if we do the following:
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Encourage Judge Albert Diaz, a North Carolina Business Court judge, to strike down Wachovia's grant to Wells Fargo of 39.9 percent of the voting stock of Wachovia before the merger. (Write him, as I did, at 832 East Fourth Street, Suite 9600, Charlotte, NC 28202.) This issue is now before him, and shareholders of all N.C. publicly traded companies will be wronged if this tactic is allowed to stand. It must be struck down as a matter of public policy. It is also unfortunate that the top management of Wachovia, who advocated this arrangement, will stand to receive millions of dollars in golden parachute benefits for themselves – a sad but too familiar occurrence in corporate America. (This will be the same group who claims that breaking up the Wells Fargo deal will put Wachovia employees and shareholders in an even worse predicament.)
Ask Wachovia shareholders to vote to defeat the merger. To do this, we must reassure them that a plan exists to meet Wachovia's short-term liquidity needs and that regulators will be presented with a powerful case for an independent Wachovia. I pledge to do everything in my power as treasurer to make that case, including an effort to put together a multi-billion dollar re-capitalization package. In talking with other large institutional investors, I am convinced that if given the chance more capital can be raised.
Finally, our nation's fourth largest bank must be given the same help as our third, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth largest banks got – access to the TARP, our government's bailout plan. This would be an especially compelling request if matching private funds are raised – something the government said last week it wanted to see.
All of this will take a great deal of work, but we constantly tout North Carolina's great business climate, and we frequently turn to tax dollars to attract new jobs. How about putting the same amount of effort in keeping the jobs we already have. It's not too late. Let's fight.