Business

Wachovia workers ‘pulling together'

Executives and employees at Wachovia Corp. are “pulling together” as the Charlotte bank contends with turbulent times for the company and the banking industry, interim chief operating officer Ben Jenkins said in a brief interview Monday.

“We're all working hard,” Jenkins said in his first public comments since taking the post. “Everybody is pulling together to get through this time.”

Also on Monday, Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips Brown confirmed the bank has hired Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to perform “analytics on our loan portfolio to evaluate various alternatives.” She declined to comment further.

Jenkins, who has assumed control of the bank's business lines, became interim COO after the ouster this month of chief executive Ken Thompson amid rising loan losses and a series of miscues.

Chairman and interim CEO Lanty Smith is leading a search for a permanent replacement.

Asked about his own possible interest in the post, Jenkins declined to comment. He said Smith is doing a good job, adding: “Everybody is doing all they can to help.”

Since Thompson's departure, Wachovia has been buffeted by speculation about its next leader and the possibility of a takeover by another bank, particularly New York's JPMorgan Chase & Co. Smith has said the board believes it's best the bank stay independent.

A knowledgeable source said Wachovia is looking to hire a new CEO “as soon as possible” but declined to comment on possible names.

The candidate getting the most buzz lately is former Bank of America Corp. chief financial officer, Al de Molina, who is now CEO of GMAC Financial Services. A GMAC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Another name making the rounds is another former Bank of America CFO, Jim Hance, now working out of New York for Washington-based Carlyle Group private equity firm. Hance could not be reached for comment.

The knowledgeable source said Goldman Sachs is not offering Wachovia advice regarding possible takeovers, although banker Ken Wilson, who has advised on big bank deals in the past, is part of the Goldman team. Goldman declined to comment.

Executives and employees at Wachovia Corp. are “pulling together” as the Charlotte bank contends with turbulent times for the company and the banking industry, interim chief operating officer Ben Jenkins said in a brief interview Monday.

“We're all working hard,” Jenkins said in his first public comments since taking the post. “Everybody is pulling together to get through this time.”

Also on Monday, Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips Brown confirmed the bank has hired Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to perform “analytics on our loan portfolio to evaluate various alternatives.” She declined to comment further.

Jenkins, who has assumed control of the bank's business lines, became interim COO after the ouster this month of chief executive Ken Thompson amid rising loan losses and a series of miscues.

Chairman and interim CEO Lanty Smith is leading a search for a permanent replacement.

Asked about his own possible interest in the post, Jenkins declined to comment. He said Smith is doing a good job, adding: “Everybody is doing all they can to help.”

Since Thompson's departure, Wachovia has been buffeted by speculation about its next leader and the possibility of a takeover by another bank, particularly New York's JPMorgan Chase & Co. Smith has said the board believes it's best the bank stay independent.

A knowledgeable source said Wachovia is looking to hire a new CEO “as soon as possible” but declined to comment on possible names.

The candidate getting the most buzz lately is former Bank of America Corp. chief financial officer, Al de Molina, who is now CEO of GMAC Financial Services. A GMAC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Another name making the rounds is another former Bank of America CFO, Jim Hance, now working out of New York for Washington-based Carlyle Group private equity firm. Hance could not be reached for comment.

The knowledgeable source said Goldman Sachs is not offering Wachovia advice regarding possible takeovers, although banker Ken Wilson, who has advised on big bank deals in the past, is part of the Goldman team. Goldman declined to comment.

  Comments