Monday, September 29, 2008

The mood at Wachovia

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2008 at 3:25 PM

The world watches as Wachovia crumbles, but how do people who work for one of Charlotte’s big banks feel?

According to a press release from Wachovia, “Wachovia Corp. will remain headquartered in Charlotte. Wachovia Securities will continue to be headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Citigroup will headquarter the retail bank in Charlotte and the investment bank in New York. Wachovia’s investment bankers were Goldman Sachs, Perella Weinberg Partners and Wachovia Securities, and its legal advisors are Sullivan & Cromwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.”

But for some employees this takeover is unnerving.

“It was tacky,” said an employee who got all of the news of the takeover from the Internet, radio and TV. “Why is it all of a sudden we have to sell today?”

He asked that his name not be used in this report, saying, “I don’t want to give them a reason to can me today.”

“This local economy can’t afford for Wachovia to just go under,” he said. “Wall Street is now trickling down to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. What scares me now because of what happened on Wall Street, it’s going to affect businesses that care about the community.

“I’ll hop my behind over to Best Buy and Wal-Mart and do what I have to do,” he said. “But it’s too early to jump ship.”

Another employee, who spoke with Creative Loafing on the condition of anonymity, said, “Our 401ks are shot. We might as well have a memorial service for it.”

She also learned of the Citigroup takeover through media reports.

“When we came in, everybody was panicking, but it is what it is,” she said.

She doesn’t know if she’s going to have a job but the employees have been in and out of meetings all day.

“Our managers didn’t know,” she said. “They knew we had an option for merging but they didn’t know that it had happened.”

A Wachovia employee who was off today said she hadn’t heard the news. But if she lost her job because of this merger, it wouldn’t be the first time that she lost a position with the bank. The woman said she worked at Wachovia from 2002 to 2006 and was displaced. She’s been in her current position since April.

“Nobody called me,” she said. “Wow. That disturbs me.”

She said she doesn’t have a real back up plan because she didn’t expect this to happen. “I thought Citigroup was just a call center. Now I’m concerned about my job once again.”

If Citigroup offers a relocation package, she said she would take it. “If they offered a moving package and paid all of my fees I would relocate.”

Another male employee said he initially wanted to work at Wachovia because of its strong commitment to community, and he wonders if Citigroup will have the same values as Wachovia.

“They’re telling us that they are trying to have everything ironed out by the end of the year,” he said. “Going into this weekend, we hadn’t heard talk of us being taken over.”

All three employees say they’re trying not to panic, but they are dusting off their resumes just in case their jobs disappear.

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