A funny thing happened early this year when First Union Corp. began talking to potential suitors about selling its subprime unit, The Money Store. Most firms weren't interested in the ailing TMS, but one, Wells Fargo & Co., said, more or less: We wouldn't mind bidding on your "A" paper servicing unit.

As the story goes, First Union--which planned to take a $1.7 billion hit on TMS--figured it made sense to get rid of all its potential headaches at once, and book all its pain when announcing second quarter earnings. After some back-and-forth, First Union inked a deal to sell the First Union Mortgage servicing platform and its $50 billion in servicing rights to Wells Fargo.

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