CHARLOTTE, N.C. - First Union Corp. denied Friday that it was discussing a merger with Wells Fargo & Co. of San Francisco.

In an unusual statement, First Union said, "It is our policy not to comment on rumors and speculation about mergers and acquisitions. However, in this particular case the company is making an exception because inaccurate local media speculation has caused confusion among our employees.

"There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that First Union is or has been engaged in merger discussions with Wells Fargo," the statement said.

Speculation about such a deal intensified last week, after a report in Wall Street Letter that the companies were discussing a transaction got picked up by The Charlotte Observer and local television stations, a First Union spokeswoman said.

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