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Bank Employees Could See Merger's Downside

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RALEIGH — A Raleigh bank merger specialist says competing bids for Wachovia, one of North Carolina's largest banks, each present a potential downside for employees.

The friendly, in-state merger planned by First Union and Wachovia would require the elimination of duplicate branches and back offices, according to Tim Lavelle of Trident Securities.

However, Lavelle says Wachovia may not have any control over who stays and who goes if shareholders approve a hostile takeover by Suntrust Bank of Atlanta.

"Unlike the First Union deal where the board has been basically made up of equal parts, we don't have anybody there to champion our cause, and so there's some risk from that standpoint of the unknown," he says.

Shareholders from First Union and Wachovia plan to vote on the deal in a couple of weeks.