Wells Fargo Co. said Tuesday it will hire 500 mortgage originators in California to make loans through its 1,000 bank branches there.

The move doubles Wells Fargo's mortgage personnel in the state. Currently, Wells makes the bulk of its California home loans through about 125 Norwest Mortgage branches in the state.

The bank is planning to change the name of the Norwest Mortgage branches in California to Wells Fargo. Norwest made $11 billion of mortgage loans in 1998, according to Experian Data, making it the No. 3 lender in the state.

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