Shareholders of Norwest Corp. approved the merger with Wells Fargo & Co., the company said Tuesday.

Norwest said stockholders representing more than a majority of the 768.5 million shares outstanding voted for the combination.

Wells shareholders were expected to vote in San Francisco late Tuesday afternoon. With shareholder approval, the merger could be closed as early as Nov. 2.

The new $197 billion-asset company would be called Wells Fargo. It would be based in San Francisco and have banking operations in 21 states.

Richard M. Kovacevich, chairman and chief executive officer of Norwest, would become CEO of the combined company.

- Brett Chase

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