Transamerica Corp.'s decision to sell its $3.6 billion-asset consumer finance company could either strengthen an already strong player, such as Norwest Corp., or bulk up a banking company that's a smaller player, observers said.

Minneapolis-based Norwest, which earned $264 million on its consumer finance business last year, would not comment on whether it intends to bid for the Transamerica unit. Transamerica announced its plans to sell the unit last week.

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