Norwest Corp.'s decision to pay almost twice book value for First United Bank Group, a collection of banks in New Mexico and West Texas, was greeted with some concern by the stock market. but executives of the Minneapolis-based banking company defended the deal.

"It's a fair price for both parties and certainly within our own guidelines," Norwest president Richard M. Kovacevich said of the decision to pay $495 million in stock for First United.

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