SAN FRANCISCO — As part of its anticipated merger with Wachovia, Wells Fargo confirmed that 53 employees at its auto loan center in Tempe, Ariz., were cut.

As earlier reported by SubPrime Auto Finance News, Wachovia Dealer Services is now handling the indirect auto lending business for Wells Fargo.

While Wells Fargo officials would not disclose the number of job cuts at the three U.S. locations or the number of remaining workers, apparently the company did report the 53 Tempe layoffs to the Arizona Department of Economic Security.

Bank officials said the impacted workers have a chance to find other jobs within the combined company.

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

Meanwhile, the combined Wells Fargo and Wachovia direct-to-customer auto lending business transitioned to Wells Fargo Auto Finance after the close of the merger and is led by Bob Hurzeler, who runs Wells Fargo Auto Finance.

Speaking about the overall merger between institutions, John Stumpf, Wells Fargo president and chief executive officer, said, "This merger creates what we believe will be a very compelling value proposition for our team members, customers, communities and shareholders with significant potential for even more market share growth. Our team members can benefit from even more professional development opportunities across a much broader geography. Our customers can benefit from greater convenience and a better value for entrusting us with more of their business.

"Our communities can benefit because we want to be a leading contributor of financial, human and social capital in every community in which we do business. Our shareholders can benefit because of the exciting growth opportunities created by this merger. We're being very thoughtful and deliberate in our three-year merger integration. Just as we did with the very successful Norwest-Wells Fargo merger integration a decade ago, we'll take the time to do it right for our customers, always putting their interests first by seeking to satisfy all their financial needs and helping them succeed financially," he continued.

Pat Callahan, an executive vice president and head of the company's merger transition, said Wachovia customers will continue to see the Wachovia brand in their banking stores and communities for the near future.

"The key to a successful integration will be our ability to provide outstanding customer service throughout the integration," said Callahan. "So we're going to take our time and do this right. Wells Fargo and Wachovia customers should continue banking as they do today — using the same bank accounts, payment coupons, online sign-on, credit cards, ATM cards and check cards, checks and banking stores. We're committed to keeping customers informed of all significant changes before they happen."

At closing, Wells Fargo acquired all outstanding shares of common stock of Wachovia in a stock-for-stock transaction. Wachovia shareholders received 0.1991 shares of Wells Fargo common stock in exchange for each share of Wachovia common stock they owned.

Shares of each outstanding series of Wachovia preferred stock were converted into shares (or fractional shares) of a corresponding series Wells Fargo preferred stock having substantially the same rights and preferences. As a result of the transaction, Wells Fargo acquired all of Wachovia Corp. and its businesses and obligations, including all of its banking deposits.

With Wachovia, Wells Fargo for the first time has a Community Banking presence in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C., officials indicated.

Wachovia's stock symbol "WB" was retired effective Dec. 31, 2008. Wells Fargo stock trades under the symbol WFC.