Zions Confirms 10% Layoff After Merger

SALT LAKE CITY - Zions Bancorp and First Security Corp. are expected to lay off more than 700 employees as a result of their proposed merger.A Zions official confirmed a report Thursday in The Salt Lake Tribune that the two Utah banking companies aim to reduce their combined 17,000-member work force by 10%. The banks have already reduced the number of employees by about 900 through attrition, due to a hiring freeze put in place when the merger was announced June 6.

The job cuts will be in the banks' administrative departments, such as accounting, information technology, and auditing, among others. Zions and First Security, which combined would have $40 billion of assets, received final regulatory approval for their merger Dec. 13 and had planned to close the deal at yearend. However, Dec. 28 stockholder meetings to vote on the deal were canceled after the Securities and Exchange Commission unexpectedly required Zions to restate its financial results for the past three years. The agency ruled that several acquisitions accounted for by Zions as poolings-of-interest must be restated as purchases.

Zions is in the midst of the reaccounting, and is expected next week to announce the results along with the new shareholder meeting dates, a bank official said. The deal is expected to close sometime this quarter.

- Olaf de Senerpont Domis

Wells Fargo to Buy Alaska Bank for $907M

SAN FRANCISCO - Wells Fargo & Co. late Wednesday said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire National Bancorp of Alaska. Definitive news of the merger first surfaced Dec. 21, when the $207 billion-asset Wells Fargo said it had signed a letter of intent to buy the Anchorage-based company for $907 million in stock.National Bancorp, which has about $3 billion of assets and is the largest bank in Alaska, will change its name to Wells Fargo but will keep its senior management team after the merger, the banking companies said. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

- Olaf de Senerpont Domis

Earnings Jump 67% at PNC's BlackRock

NEW YORK - BlackRock Inc., the asset management arm of PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh, reported net income for 1999 of $59.4 million, a 67% increase over 1998. In the fourth quarter, the company earned $17.2 million, a 33% increase from the same period a year earlier.Assets under management rose to $164.5 billion, up 11% from the third quarter, while mutual fund advisory fees were $53.4 million, a 13% increase from 1998.

"We continue to achieve strong investment performance and have attracted substantial assets from new and existing clients," said Laurence D. Fink, chairman of BlackRock, in a statement. "In particular, we had a very strong year in fixed-income, where we raised more than $23 billion in net new business."

- Karen Talley

E Trade Buys Rest of On-Line Unit in U.K.

MENLO PARK, Calif. - E-Trade Group Inc. said Thursday it has bought the 48% it did not already own of its on-line network for investors in the United Kingdom.Shareholders of E-trade UK will receive 3,869,666 shares of E-trade common stock. E-trade UK, launched in July, was previously a joint venture between E-trade and Electronic Share Information, a provider of real-time equity prices.

"We have been consolidating our international strategy over the past several months," said Judy Balint, chief international officer of E-trade. She said the United Kingdom, which has $3 trillion of personal assets available for investment, is the third-largest market by that measure.

E-trade has networks in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Japan, and is building the capability in other countries, she said.

- Cheryl Winokur

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