Norwest Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. have made a series of post-merger personnel decisions that inside officials and outside observers described as acareful balancing of the strengthsof the two organizations.

Though Norwest is viewed as the acquirer, Wells Fargo executives got four of six corporate staff appointments that were first revealed to employees of both banks in an electronic-mail memo last Friday.

Four other business-line positions were split evenly between Wells and Norwest people.

"There is a very careful selection process we are going through," said a Norwest official, who asked not to be identified. "It is truly an effort to pick the best people from across the whole merged organization."

Topping the corporate appointments, Wells Fargo president Rodney L. Jacobs was tapped to be chief financial officer of the combined company.

Ross J. Kari, who succeeded Mr. Jacobs in May as Wells' chief financial officer, will come in behind him as deputy CFO of the merged company, to be called Wells Fargo and based in San Francisco.

Wells executive vice president Eric D. Shand will head risk management for the new Wells Fargo, while Donald E. Dana, also an executive vice president at Wells, will be in charge of facilities and properties.

From the Norwest corporate offices, executive vice president Thomas E. Emerson will be chief auditor, in charge of internal audits and controls. Norwest vice president Robert S. Strickland will be in charge of investor relations.

Observers said the announcements fit with the philosophy of Norwest chairman Richard M. Kovacevich, who would be president and chief executive officer of Wells after the merger closes in the fourth quarter. Mr. Kovacevich is viewed as a big thinker who is highly attentive to people issues, morale, and customer service.

"This is encouraging because it shows senior management is seriously looking at both banks to create an integrated whole, rather than simply choosing one bank over the other, winner over loser," said Charles B. Wendel, president of Financial Institutions Consulting in New York. "This is what I would expect from Kovacevich."

The business-line appointments were also in keeping with the banks' description of their transaction as a merger of equals.

David A. Hoyt, Wells Fargo's vice chairman in charge of capital markets, will head commercial and wholesale banking for the combined company. His responsibilities would include commercial real estate, capital markets, international trade, middle-market lending, large-corporate client services, and treasury management.

Mr. Hoyt was promoted from executive vice president to vice chairman in May 1997. He has also served as senior credit officer for the real estate group and manager of credit training.

Deborah E. Moore, who has been president of Norwest Card Services since March, was tapped to head the post-merger card business. Norwest's credit card receivables were $1.1 billion at midyear, while Wells is reporting $4.65 billion.

Previously, Ms. Moore was in charge of retail banking and alternative delivery in Minneapolis and St. Paul. She joined Minneapolis-based Norwest in 1988 as a manager in telephone banking.

Jerry E. Gray, president of Norwest's Small Business Administration lending program, would take charge of this area at the new Wells Fargo. His unit, Norwest National Business Service, was created in May to offer SBA loans nationwide through four regional service centers. Mr. Gray joined Norwest in 1992.

Wells Fargo makes SBA-guaranteed loans but this has not been a major focus for the bank, according to a spokeswoman.

Richard T. Schliesmann, executive vice president in charge of Wells' auto finance unit, was designated head of auto finance-related businesses after the merger. That would include auto loans, leasing, and wholesale and retail services provided to dealerships.

Before his current job, Mr. Schliesmann was a manager in the San Francisco bank's consumer credit unit. He began his career at Norwest in 1974, joining Wells as a vice president in 1987.

"The fact that a Wells person is in charge of auto businesses shows that they are following the strengths that each bank has," said R. Jay Tejera, an analyst with Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis. "Wells has done an exceptionally good job with their auto leasing program."

Wells Fargo vice chairman and head of wholesale banking Charlie Johnson is expected to retire at the end of the year, as he had been planning to do before the merger, the memo said. Norwest CFO John T. Thornton is expected to retire in 1999.

According to an earlier announcement to employees, Wells vice chairman and chief credit officer Michael J. Gilfillan was tapped as chief credit officer of the combined company. The memo also said Wells executive vice president Patricia R. Callahan will head human resources, Norwest general counsel Stan Stoup will retain that title, and John Ganoe, head of corporate development and acquisitions at Norwest, will keep his post after the merger.

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