Given Wells Fargo & Co.'s victory over Citigroup Inc. in the brief but nasty battle to acquire Wachovia Corp., one thing is clear: It is not a good idea to dis Dick Kovacevich.

In fact, it is entirely possible that the Wells Fargo chairman might be running Citi today if it were not for a bizarre incident that occurred 23 years ago, when he was passed over for the newly created job of worldwide retail banking czar at what was then Citicorp.

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