Wells Fargo alerted team members and dealers yesterday that Wachovia Dealer Services will take over the indirect auto lending business for Wells Fargo after the merger between the two companies, which is expected by year's end.

The combined business will be led by Tom Wolfe, who runs Wachovia Dealer Services' decentralized regional business center model.

These changes are scheduled as a part of the merger, which is likely to close by year end, subject to approval by Wachovia shareholders.

"After thoughtfully assessing both companies' models for indirect lending, we believe this structure will take advantage of the economies of skill and talent in integrating our auto businesses. We believe the Wachovia Dealer Services model is the best model to meet all of the indirect auto finance needs of both Wells Fargo and Wachovia dealer customers after the merger," Wells Fargo said in a statement sent to dealers and associates, obtained by SubPrime Auto Finance News.

"As a result, Wells Fargo indirect auto origination operations in Tempe, Ariz.; Eden Prairie, Minn.; and Chester, Pa., will cease all indirect originations effective Dec. 23. Some jobs will be eliminated at Wells Fargo Auto Finance affecting team members in indirect sales, underwriting and funding. Other Wells Fargo Auto Finance auto business functions — such as auto loan servicing — will remain in these three locations," the company indicated.

The company explained that it is not disclosing the total number of positions being eliminated because, while a position may be eliminated, it doesn't necessarily mean the team member in that position will have to leave the company.

Affected Wells Fargo Auto Finance team members will begin a 60-day notice period and may post for positions in Wells Fargo or apply for vacant Wachovia Dealer Services positions after the merger, according to the company's statement.

"All Wells Fargo Auto Finance contracts that originate on or before Dec. 17 will be funded if received by Dec. 23. Beginning Jan. 1 and after the merger, all loan applications should be sent to Wachovia Dealer Services," Wells Fargo stated yesterday.

"The combined Wells Fargo and Wachovia direct-to-customer auto lending business will transition to Wells Fargo Auto Finance after the close of the merger and will be led by Bob Hurzeler, who runs Wells Fargo Auto Finance. Other auto business lines within Wells Fargo and Wachovia Dealer Services — including Wachovia's Warranty Solutions — will remain unchanged until after the close of the merger," the company concluded.

Joe Overby, staff writer, contributed to this report.