Wells Fargo & Company History

420 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, California 94163

Telephone: (415) 411-4932
Toll Free: 800-411-4932
Fax: (415) 677-9075

Public Company
Incorporated: 1968 as Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; 1983 as Norwest Corporation
Employees: 114,000
Total Assets: $263 billion (2000)
Stock Exchanges: New York Chicago
Ticker Symbol: WFC
NAIC: 522110 Commercial Banking; 522210 Credit Card Issuing; 522220 Sales Financing; 522291 Consumer Lending; 522292 Real Estate Credit; 522298 All Other Nondepository Credit Intermediation; 523110 Investment Banking and Securities Dealing; 523120 Securities Brokerage; 523920 Portfolio Management; 523991 Trust, Fiduciary, and Custody Activities; 524210 Insurance Agencies and Brokerages; 551111 Offices of Bank Holding Companies

Company Perspectives:

Wells Fargo was founded on the American frontier 148 years ago to satisfy a fundamental human need&mdashø connect one customer to another and one market to another by transporting goods, services and funds fast and securely across great distances. We're still doing it today. Our vision--satisfying all our customers' financial needs--is built on that same process--connecting. That's the 'next stage' of the new Wells Fargo. Key Dates:

Key Dates:

Henry Wells and William G. Fargo form Wells, Fargo & Company to provide express and banking services to California.
Wells Fargo gains control of Overland Mail Company, leading to operation of the western portion of the Pony Express.
'Grand consolidation' unites Wells Fargo, Holladay, and Overland Mail stage lines under the Wells Fargo name.
A.P. Giannini creates the Bank of Italy in San Francisco.
Wells Fargo separates its banking and express operations; Wells Fargo's bank is merged with the Nevada National Bank to form the Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank.
Wells Fargo Nevada merges with the Union Trust Company to form the Wells Fargo Bank & Union Trust Company.
Giannini forms Transamerica Corporation as a holding company for his banking and other interests.
Northwest Bancorporation, or Banco, is formed as a banking association.
Wells shortens its name to Wells Fargo Bank.
Transamerica spins off its banking operations, including 23 banks in 11 western states, as Firstamerica Corporation.
Wells Fargo merges with American Trust Company to form the Wells Fargo Bank American Trust Company.
Firstamerica changes its name to Western Bancorporation.
Wells again shortens its name to Wells Fargo Bank.
Wells converts to a federal banking charter, becoming Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
Wells Fargo & Company holding company is formed, with Wells Fargo Bank as its main subsidiary.
Western Bancorporation changes its name to First Interstate Bancorp.
Banco acquires consumer finance firm Dial Corporation, which is renamed Norwest Financial Service the following year.
Banco is renamed Norwest Corporation.
Wells Fargo acquires Crocker National Corporation.
Wells Fargo acquires Barclays Bank of California.
Wells Fargo becomes the first major financial services firm to offer Internet banking.
Wells Fargo acquires First Interstate for $11.3 billion.
Norwest acquires Wells Fargo for $31.7 billion and adopts the Wells Fargo name.
Wells Fargo acquires First Security Corporation.

Company History:

Further Reading:

  • Acello, Richard, 'The Boy Wonder Banker Relaxes--Just Briefly,' San Diego Daily Transcript, January 6, 1995, p. 1.
  • Asher, Joseph, 'Golden Jubilee for Two Holding Companies in Twin Cities,' ABA Banking Journal, June 1979, pp. 102--04.
  • Bailey, Jeff, and Richard Gibson, 'Branching Out: Two Minnesota Banks Illustrate the Pitfalls of Interstate Networks,' Wall Street Journal, July 26, 1985.
  • Beebe, Lucius M., and Charles M. Clegg, U.S. West: The Saga of Wells Fargo, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1949, 320 p.
  • Bradford, Stacey L., 'Norwest Passage,' Financial World, January 21, 1997, pp. 41--43.
  • Bryan, Robert, 'First Interstate: California's Restless Giant,' Bankers Monthly, October 1986, pp. 23+.
  • Byrne, Harlan S., 'Norwest Corp.: Earnings Surge at Bank Company's Consumer, Mortgage Operations,' Barron's, October 26, 1992, pp. 31--32.
  • ------, 'On the Money: Norwest Corp. Has Been Making the Right Moves,' Barron's, January 5, 1987.
  • Carlsen, Clifford, 'Wells Fargo Hitches Wagon to Commerce on the Net,' San Francisco Business Times, December 16, 1994, p. 6.
  • Carlton, Jim, 'Wells Fargo Discovers Getting Together Is Hard to Do: Efforts to Merge Operations with First Interstate Result in Alienated Customers,' Wall Street Journal, July 21, 1997, p. B4.
  • Carson, Teresa, et al., 'Wells Fargo May Have Bagged a Bargain in Crocker,' Business Week, February 24, 1986, p. 35.
  • DePass, Dee, 'Norwest Goes West: $31.4 Billion Buys New Name, Home,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 9, 1998, p. 1A.
  • ------, 'Norwest Officially Acquires Wells Fargo,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 3, 1998, p. 1D.
  • ------, 'Norwest Scouts Carefully Looking for the Right Deal,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 22, 1997, p. 1D.
  • ------, 'U.S. Bancorp, Norwest Grow in Different Ways,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, December 22, 1997, p. 1D.
  • Eisenstein, Paul A., 'Turnaround at Norwest,' United States Banker, January 1989, pp. 38+.
  • Ellis, James E., '`It's Not Sexy, but It's Sure,' Business Week, April 2, 1990, pp. 96--97.
  • Engen, John R., 'The Acquiring Mind of Richard Kovacevich,' Corporate Report-Minnesota, October 1995, pp. 28--30+.
  • 'First Interstate Breathes Again,' United States Banker, February 1993, pp. 34+.
  • Glater, Jonathan D., 'The Big Bank That Thinks Small: Norwest Targets `Little Guys,' Washington Post, January 8, 1995, p. H1.
  • Himelstein, Linda, and Kathleen Morris, 'Why Wells Fargo Is Circling the Wagons,' Business Week, June 9, 1997, pp. 92--93.
  • Hungerford, Edward, Wells Fargo: Advancing the American Frontier, New York: Random House, 1949, 274 p.
  • Iwata, Edward, 'How to Make a Merger Work: Dick Kovacevich Is Successfully Piloting the New Wells Fargo,' San Francisco Examiner, August 10, 1999, p. C1.
  • King, Ralph T., Jr., and Steven Lipin, 'Wells Fargo Sets Big Cuts in California After Merger: Pact with First Interstate Could Take Heavy Toll in Branches, Personnel,' Wall Street Journal, January 24, 1996, p. A3.
  • King, Ralph T., Jr., Timothy L. O'Brien, and Steven L. Lipin, 'California Dream: A Chance to Cut Costs Drives Wells Fargo Bid for First Interstate,' Wall Street Journal, October 19, 1995, pp. A1+.
  • Knecht, G. Bruce, 'Banking Maverick: Norwest Corp. Relies on Branches, Pushes Service--and Prospers,' Wall Street Journal, August 17, 1995, pp. A1+.
  • Kover, Amy, 'Dick Kovacevich Does It His Way,' Fortune, May 15, 2000, pp. 299--300+.
  • Levine, Thomas B., et al., 'Two California Banks Riding Different Waves,' Business Week, May 9, 1988, p. 127.
  • Loomis, Noel M., Wells Fargo: An Illustrated History, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1968, 340 p.
  • Milligan, John W., 'The Fight for First Interstate,' United States Banker, March 1996, pp. 32--36, 38--40.
  • Moody, Ralph, Wells Fargo, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961, 184 p.
  • Mullen, Liz, 'Banking on Independence,' Los Angeles Business Journal, March 14, 1994, pp. 14+.
  • Murray, Matt, 'Norwest, Wells Fargo Agree to a Merger,' Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1998, p. A2.
  • 'Norwest: Hurtling into Innovative Services,' Business Week, May 28, 1984, pp. 78--79.
  • O'Donnell, Thomas C., 'A `Loyal Number Two' Takes Charge,' Forbes, September 29, 1980, pp. 46+.
  • Racine, John, 'How First Interstate Beats the California Blues,' American Banker, January 11, 1995, pp. 4+.
  • Roosevelt, Phil, 'King of the Cross-Sell: Richard Kovacevich Wants to Turn Wells Fargo into a Perpetual-Motion Machine,' Barron's, October 11, 1999, pp. 20, 23.
  • Rose, Sanford, 'They're Still Pioneering at Wells Fargo Bank,' Fortune, July 1976, p. 122.
  • St. Anthony, Neal, 'From Go-Go to Cut-Cut: Norwest, Growing Fast but Spending a Lot, Now Focuses on Controlling Costs,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 5, 1994, p. 1D.
  • ------, 'Norwest Corp. Knows How to Grow,' Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 13, 1990, p. 1D.
  • Schafer, Lee, 'Executive of the Year: Lloyd P. Johnson,' Corporate Report-Minnesota, January 1991, pp. 28+.
  • Sinton, Peter, 'Bungles Bruise Wells Fargo: Merger Woes Hurt Once Sterling Reputation,' San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1997, p. D1.
  • ------, 'Wells Fargo Wagon Rolls On,' San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 1996, p. B2.
  • Somasundarum, Meera, 'Norwest, Banking Giant, Seeks Gains by Stressing Services for Customers,' Wall Street Journal, December 10, 1996, p. B11A.
  • Timmons, Heather, 'Can the Wells Fargo Wagon Roll Alone?,' Business Week, October 23, 2000, p. 144.
  • 'Waving Good-bye to Wells Fargo,' Business Week, August 1, 1994, p. 36.
  • Weiner, Steve, '`The Wal-Mart of Banking,' Forbes, March 4, 1991, pp. 62, 65.
  • 'Wells Fargo's Fight to Hold the West,' Business Week, June 14, 1982, pp. 90+.
    Wells Fargo Since 1852, San Francisco: Wells Fargo & Company, 1988.
  • Wilson, Neill C., Treasure Express: Epic Days of the Wells Fargo, New York: Macmillan, 1936.
  • Winther, Oscar O., Via Western Express and Stagecoach, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1945, 158 p.
  • Zuckerman, Sam, 'A New Stage for Wells' Hazen,' San Francisco Chronicle, November 4, 1998, p. D2.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 38. St. James Press, 2001.