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Citi Walking From Wachovia, Suing Wells

Updated from Thursday, Oct. 9

Wells Fargo (WFC - Get Report) has triumphed in its battle with Citigroup (C - Get Report) for the rights to their struggling competitor, Wachovia (WB - Get Report).

Citi said on late Thursday that it was breaking off negotiations and proceeding with a lawsuit against Wachovia and Wells Fargo, which agreed to a deal last week, trumping an earlier deal between Wachovia and Citi.

Citi, however, said it would not seek to block the deal between Wachovia and Wells after failing to come to an agreement after days of negotiations. Citi cited "dramatic differences" in their views over the transaction structure and risks involved. The dueling banks had initially agreed to halt litigation related to the competing deals through 8 a.m. on Friday.

Citi says it is still willing to go through with the deal it offered. However, the company is still seeking "compensatory and punitive damages for bad faith breach of contract and tortious interference" in the $60 billion lawsuit it filed Monday.

Citi on Sept. 29 had agreed to take over Wachovia's banking operations for $2.16 billion, or about $1 per share, in a deal pushed forward by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. On Oct. 3, Wells trumped that plan with its own offer of $15.1 billion, or $7 per share, to acquire all of Wachovia. Wells' offer did not require FDIC assistance, while Citi's required the government to take on potential losses on part of Wachovia's loan portfolio

Citi said that without its willingness to acquire Wachovia on Sept. 29, the bank would have failed. It noted Wells had "walked away" from a deal prior to the FDIC reaching out to Citi.

Wachovia shares skyrocketed $1.10, or 30.6%, to $4.70 in recent trading. Citi shares were up 5.7% and Wells Fargo shares were down fractionally.

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