North Carolina's Moore Calls for Wachovia Buyout Fight

November 14, 2008 ( - Outgoing North Carolina Treasurer Richard Moore said he will instruct that the shares of Wachovia held by the state's pension fund be voted against the bank's agreement to be purchased by Wells Fargo.

Moore told CNBC that the deal –   originally valued at $15 billion or about $7 per share – constituted “highway robbery,” according to the Charlotte Observer.   The newspaper said, however, that price has fallen since the announcement because of a decline in Wells’ share value.

The shareholder vote is expected in December, but Wells has virtually guaranteed that shareholders will approve the acquisition. Wachovia granted Wells preferred shares worth 39.9% of shareholder voting power, according to the Observer.

The North Carolina pension fund owns 3.2 million shares of Wachovia, which is about 0.1% of its total portfolio, the newspaper said. Wachovia shares have shed more than 85% of their value in the past 12 months, closing at $5.49 a share Friday, down $0.15.

In his Observer interview, the official said   he wants Wachovia to continue as an independent company and that he supports a shareholder lawsuit protesting the Wells Fargo deal. Moore lost a bid for governor and is leaving office in January.

Last month, the New York law firm Wolf Popper filed a suit challenging that provision. On Wednesday, Moore sent a letter in support of the lawsuit to the judge who is scheduled to hear the case, Albert Diaz of the North Carolina Business Court in Charlotte. The deal should move forward only if it is approved by Wachovia’s public shareholders “in an unfettered vote,” the letter said.

Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown told the Observer that the lawsuit is without merit, and that Wachovia “intends to defend the case vigorously.”

Moore’s successor, Democratic state Senator Janet Cowell, was unavailable for comment, according to the newspaper.