Bank Notes

Wachovia's Steel to meet with analysts Monday in New York

New Wachovia Corp. chief executive Bob Steel has met with employees and the media. Now he's getting to know the analysts.

On Monday, he'll be in New York for a meet-and-greet luncheon with the group that closely monitors the bank's financial condition and future prospects. It's an important constituency because analysts issue closely followed reports and recommendations about individual stocks.

In a report Friday, analyst Nancy Bush of NAB Research said she's most interested in hearing Steel's overall strategy for the company's various parts. Last week, Steel said the bank could sell off “noncore” assets, but gave few details.

Bush wonders whether the bank might divest retail brokerage or mortgage operations, or abandon some regions such as California or Texas. “We are hopeful that we will at least be able to gain some insights into the new CEO's thinking on the relative attractiveness of the company's various parts – most notably, the mortgage banking and the retail brokerage businesses,” Bush wrote.

In a conference call last week, Steel called the retail brokerage a “core part of our business” and a spokeswoman this week reiterated that Wachovia is “firmly committed” to the business and “has no plans to sell it.” Wachovia has also said it continues to build new West Coast branches, although at a slower pace.

Meanwhile, Wachovia shares jumped to a seven-week high Friday on renewed speculation that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – Steel's former employer – may bid for the fourth-largest U.S. bank. “There have been takeover rumors,” said Fred Froewiss, vice president of institutional sales at RF Lafferty & Co. in New York. “It's always a possibility, but I don't give it a high likelihood.”

The bank's shares climbed 9.9 percent to $18.98; they're down 50 percent this year.

Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips Brown and Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally declined to comment.

Rick Rothacker/ Bloomberg News

Cornelius-based Aquesta posts its first quarterly profit since opening

Aquesta Bank on Friday celebrated its second birthday and announced its first profitable quarter. The Cornelius-based bank earned $32,000 in the second quarter, compared with a net loss of $298,000 a year ago. Startup banks typically post losses in their early years.

Assets more than doubled from a year ago, to $160 million from $77 million. Loans and deposits also increased substantially.

Jim Engel, the president and chief executive, noted that the bank has no exposure to subprime mortgages and no nonperforming loans. Aquesta has branches in Davidson and Cornelius and loan offices in Concord, Gastonia and Denver.

Christina Rexrode

Wachovia executive Carlos Evans is taking on additional duties

Wachovia Corp. said today that it's expanding the responsibilities of wholesale banking executive Carlos Evans. The banking veteran will now run government and institutional banking as well as commercial, business and community banking areas.

Rick Rothacker

BofA, women's information technology group to honor 28 teens

Bank of America Corp. and the National Center for Women & Information Technology will honor 28 high school students from across the country in Charlotte today. The young women – five of whom are from Charlotte – are being honored for computer-related achievements and interests.

Christina Rexrode