Wachovia Corp. has entered into preliminary discussions with a handful of potential suitors, including Banco Santander SA of Spain, Wells Fargo & Co., and Citigroup Inc., according to a person familiar with the situation.

The talks underscore escalating efforts by the Charlotte, N.C., bank to escape mounting loan losses and a plunging stock price. On Friday, Wachovia shares tumbled 27%, or $3.70, to $10 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.

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