Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON - Wells Fargo & Co. will sell three branches with $213 million in deposits in Nebraska in order to satisfy antitrust regulators' concerns about its pending merger with First Commerce Bancshares Inc.

The Justice Department's antitrust division said the sales of two City National Bank and Trust branches in Hastings and one National Bank of Commerce branch in Lincoln will ensure consumers, particularly small businesses, will have choices for their banking services. "These divestitures will preserve competition, such as competitive prices, in these Nebraska markets," Joel I. Klein, assistant attorney general for antitrust, said in a statement.

As a result of the branch sales, the Justice Department won't oppose the merger, which requires final approval by the Federal Reserve Board.

Wells Fargo's shares closed up 75 cents at $43.875 in regular session trading on the New York Stock Exchange; First Commerce Class A shares closed up 43.75 cents at $35.50 on Nasdaq while Class B shares gained 25 cents at $35.375.

On Feb. 2, Wells Fargo & Co., the seventh-largest U.S. bank, agreed to buy First Commerce Bancshares Inc. of Lincoln, Nebraska for about $480 million in stock to become that state's second-largest bank by deposits. First National Bank of Omaha is No. 1.

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