Moody's, Investors Service upgraded the long-term debt rating of Norwest Inc. and raised the ratings of two of its subsidiary banks - Norwest Bank Minnesota and Norwest Bank Colorado for long-term deposits, affecting $1.4 billion of debt.

Moody's also said h assigned Aa2 ratings to three of Norwest's other banking subsidiaries for longterm deposits.

Moody's cited Norwest's improved asset quality and earnings, which have stemmed in part from the banks recent acquisitions.

Nonbank Business Benefits

"Norwest's planned growth has resulted in geographic and product diversification," the ratings agency said. "Consolidated performance heavily benefits from Norwest's nonbank businesses, namely its finance operations and its mortgage banking franchise."

Norwest's geographic concentration in the Midwest and Southwest, where the past recession was not as severe, insulated Norwest from the economic downturn, Moody's said.

The bank's wide retail deposit base has produced healthy net interest margins, Moody's added. And despite the company's recent 10-million-share repurchase program, Moody's continued. capital ratios are expected to remain_ strong.

Moody's said the following ratings were upgraded:

* Norwest Corp.: senior debt to Aa3 from A1, subordinated debt to A1 from A2, preferred stock to Aa3 from A1, and shelf registration for preferred stock to Aa3 from A1.

* Norwest Bank Minnesota: ratings of the bank for long-term deposits and for other senior and counterparty obligations, to Aa2 from Aa3. The bank's Prime-1 ratings for short-term deposits and other senior obligations were confirmed.

* Norwest Bank Colorado (formerly Norwest Bank Denver): ratings of the bank for longterm deposits and for other senior and counterparty obligations, to Aa2 from A1. The bank's Prime-1 ratings for short-term deposits and other senior obligations were confirmed.

Assigned Ratings

The following ratings were assigned:

* Norwest Bank Iowa: ratings of the bank for long-term deposits and for other senior and counterparty Obligations, at Aa2, as well as rating for shortterm deposits, and other senior obligations, at Prime-1.

* Norwest Bank Nebraska: ratings of the bank for long-term deposits and for other senior and counterparty obligations, at Aa2, as well as ratings for Shortterm deposits, and other senior obligations, at Prime-1.

* Norwest Bank North Dakota: ratings of the bank for longterm deposits and for other senior and . counterparty obligations, at Aa2, as well as ratings for short-term deposits, and other senior obligations, at Prime-1.

The following ratings have been confirmed:

* Norwest Financial Inc.: the Aa3 senior debt rating, and the company's Prime-1 rating for commercial paper.

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