Mutual fund companies are trying to get a foot in the door at Wells Fargo & Co., hoping that its acquisition of First Interstate Bancorp will spur the banking giant to expand its sales of nonproprietary funds.

"Wells has unbelievable potential because of its size," said Maryann Bruce, the head of bank channel sales for Oppenheimer Management Corp. "It's an account that we've always wanted to work more with."

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