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Non-Tech : WELLS FARGO -- Ignore unavailable to you. Want to Upgrade?


To: David C. Burns who wrote (1250)2/2/2000 9:18:00 AM
From: David C. Burns  Respond to of 1281
 
Wells Fargo Agrees to Acquire First Commerce Bancshares

LINCOLN, Neb., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC)
and Lincoln-based First Commerce Bancshares, Inc. (Nasdaq: FCBIA, FCBIB)
announced today that Wells Fargo has agreed to acquire First Commerce
Bancshares.

First Commerce, the fourth-largest bank in Nebraska, has assets of
$2.55 billion, 1,375 employees and 26 locations in 10 Nebraska communities and
one location in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The merger values First Commerce at approximately $480 million or $35.95
per share of Class A common stock and Class B common stock.

This represents a premium of approximately 40.9% to the average closing
price of Class A common stock over the last 30 trading days and a premium of
approximately 51.0% to the average closing price of Class B common stock over
the same period. The exchange ratio will be determined by dividing $35.95 by
the average of the closing prices of a share of Wells Fargo common as reported
on the consolidated tape of the New York Stock Exchange during the period of
20 trading days ending on the day immediately before the meeting of First
Commerce shareholders called to vote on the proposed merger.

The merger, which is subject to regulatory approval and the approval of
First Commerce shareholders, is expected to be completed in the third quarter
of this year.

Once the acquisition is complete, First Commerce will become part of
Norwest Bank Nebraska, a Wells Fargo subsidiary, making Norwest the
second-largest bank in Nebraska based on deposits.

"Selecting a merger partner that shares our strong commitment to customer
service and building great communities is very important to me," said
Jim Stuart, Jr., chairman and CEO of First Commerce Bancshares. "We feel our
combination with Norwest will serve the best long-term interests of our
employees, our customers and the communities we've helped nurture for most of
the 20th century. Our belief that local managers are best qualified to make
the right decisions for the communities where they live and work is an
integral part of the way Norwest does business. Norwest also recognizes the
need to balance that approach with the advantages gained by having banking
resources and services available to more completely serve customers. Coupled
with its outstanding reputation as a company that values employees, customers,
community support, and the broadest product line in the business, Norwest was
the right choice."

"Norwest and First Commerce share many values that have helped both of us
become outstanding companies: great customer service, building strong
communities, and the value we place on our team members," said Judith Owen,
president of Norwest Bank Nebraska. "We think this is a great combination.
The combined company will be more focused than ever on earning 100 percent of
our customers' business and helping our customers succeed financially."

"Norwest's business philosophy of community reinvestment is based on local
decision-making," Owen said. "It is the key to serving our communities
effectively. We believe the best decisions are local decisions made by local
people. It is our belief that in Nebraska, our market managers are in the
best position to understand their community and to make decisions on local
community involvement."

Over the past five years, Norwest Bank Nebraska has contributed over
$3.5 million to non-profit organizations in Nebraska.

Norwest has 30 Nebraska banking stores serving Bellevue (2 stores), Grand
Island (3), Hastings (2), Lincoln (6), Norfolk (2), and Omaha (15). First
Commerce has 26 banking locations serving the Nebraska communities of Alliance
(1), Bridgeport (1), Grand Island (3), Hastings (2), Kearney (3), Lincoln (9),
McCook (1), North Platte (3), Valentine (1), West Point (1), and one location
in Colorado Springs, Co.

"We have learned and validated the fact that decisions are truly made
locally within the Wells Fargo system," Stuart said. "Our executive team will
still be in place to serve our customers and provide strategic direction for
the markets they manage. And because of this, customers can continue to count
on us to look out for your concerns, as any neighbor would."

Wells Fargo and First Commerce expect regulators to require divestiture of
some stores before giving approval to the merger.

In addition to the banking locations, the acquisition includes all or
parts of other subsidiaries of First Commerce Bancshares:

* First Commerce Technologies -- provides data processing to the company


and about 255 unaffiliated banks.

* First Commerce Mortgage Company -- purchases residential loans and


packages them as securities while retaining servicing rights. Servicing


portfolio is $1.8 billion.

* First Commerce Investors, Inc. -- investment advisory firm


* Commerce Affiliated Life Insurance -- credit life insurance company


* Peterson Building Corp. -- owns and operates parking garage next to


First Commerce headquarters building in Lincoln.

* Commerce Court Inc. -- owns the Commerce Court building adjacent to


First Commerce headquarters building.

"We also look forward to continuing the excellent relationships that First
Commerce has built with its 280 correspondent banking customers," Owen said.
Wells Fargo is among the nation's largest providers of correspondent banking
services.

Norwest Bank Nebraska, N.A., with assets of $2.3 billion, together with
other Wells Fargo subsidiaries, provide banking, insurance, investments,
mortgage and consumer finance through 30 banking stores statewide.

This press release contains forward-looking statements about Wells Fargo
and its proposed acquisition of First Commerce. These statements include
descriptions of (a) the anticipated closing date of the acquisition and (b)
plans and objectives of Wells Fargo's management for future operations,
products and services of First Commerce following the acquisition.
Forward-looking statements can be identified by the fact that they do not
relate strictly to historical or current facts. They often include the words
"believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "plan," "estimate" or words of
similar meaning, or future or conditional verbs such as "will, "would,"
"should," "could" or "may."

Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are subject to risks and
uncertainties. A number of factors-many of which are beyond Wells Fargo's
control-could cause actual conditions, events or results to differ
significantly from those described in the forward-looking statements. Wells
Fargo's reports filed with the SEC, including Wells Fargo's Form 10-Q for the
quarter ended September 30, 1999, describe some of these factors, including
certain credit, market, operational, liquidity and interest rate risks
associated with Wells Fargo's business and operations. Other factors
described in Wells Fargo's September 30, 1999 Form 10-Q include changes in
business and economic conditions, competition, fiscal and monetary policies,
disintermediation, legislation, the combination of the former Norwest
Corporation and the former Wells Fargo & Company, and other mergers and
acquisitions.

There are other factors besides these that could cause actual conditions,
events or results to differ significantly from those described in the
forward-looking statements or otherwise affect in the future Wells Fargo's
business, results of operations and financial condition.

This press release may be deemed to be offering materials of Wells Fargo &
Company in connection with Wells Fargo's proposed acquisition of First
Commerce Bancshares, Inc. through the merger of a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Wells Fargo with and into First Commerce upon the terms and subject to the
conditions set forth in the Agreement and Plan of Reorganization, dated as of
February 1, 2000, by and between Wells Fargo and First Commerce (the
"Agreement"). This filing is being made in connection with Regulation of
Takeovers and Security Holder Communications (Release Nos. 33-7760 and
34-42055) adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

First Commerce and its directors and executive officers may be deemed to
be participants in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the transactions
contemplated by the Agreement. These directors and executive officers include
the following: Stuart L. Bartruff, David T. Calhoun, Mark Hansen,
Brad Korell, Connie Lapaseotes, John G. Lowe, John C. Os-borne,
Richard C. Schmoker, William C. Schmoker, Kenneth W. Staab, James Stuart, Jr.,
James Stuart, III and Scott Stuart. Of these directors and executive
officers, Richard C. Schmoker, William C. Schmoker, James Stuart, Jr.,
James Stuart, III and Scott Stuart may be deemed beneficial owners of
approximately (i) 1.6 million shares of First Commerce's Class A common stock
(constituting approximately 60.7% of the outstanding Class A shares) and (ii)
5.9 million shares of First Commerce's Class B common stock (constituting
approximately 54.8% of the outstanding Class B shares). None of the other
persons listed above owns more than 1% of the outstanding shares of either
First Commerce's Class A common stock or its Class B common stock. The
ownership information is as of December 31, 1999. In addition, in connection
with the Merger, each of Stuart L. Bartruff, Mark Hansen and Brad Korell has
entered into an employment/non-compete agreement, and each of James Stuart Jr.
and James Stuart III has entered into a non-compete agreement. The foregoing
persons are also parties to retention agreements that provide for payments in
connection with continued employment after certain business combinations,
including the merger.

Shareholders of First Commerce and other investors are urged to read the
proxy statement-prospectus which will be included in the registration
statement on Form S-4 to be filed by Wells Fargo with the SEC in connection
with the proposed merger because it will contain important information. After
it is filed with the SEC, the proxy statement-prospectus will be available for
free, both on the SEC's web site (www.sec.gov) and from First Commerce's and
Wells Fargo's respective corporate secretaries, as follows:

First Commerce: Wells Fargo:


Corporate Secretary Corporate Secretary


First Commerce Bancshares Inc. Wells Fargo & Company


NBC Center MAC N9305-173


1248 "O" Street Sixth and Marquette


Lincoln, NE 68508 Minneapolis, MN 55479


402-434-4110 612-667-8655

SOURCE Wells Fargo & Company