Citi to Remain Largest Bank After Wachovia Acquisition

Will Also Keep Place as No. 1 Marketing Spender; Brands to Remain Intact Until Next Year

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YORK, Pa. ( -- With the harried wave of mergers and acquisitions in the financial sector, rankings in the bank industry are changing almost daily.

Citi held the title of country's largest bank until No. 3 Bank of America prepared to leap over it with its pending purchase of Merrill Lynch. However, now that Citi has declared its intention to buy Wachovia, it will remain largest after the deal. JPMorgan Chase had already skipped over BofA to become No. 2, thanks to its government-assisted and instantly closed purchase of Washington Mutual.

The same jumbled story is true when it comes to marketing spending. Citi, for instance, was Ad Age's leading financial megabrand (measured spending only) at $406 million in 2007 before Friday. But Chase's takeover of WaMu moved it from No. 2 at $341 million to No. 1 with $514 million (by adding WaMu's $173 million.) However, Citi's acquisition of Wachovia -- if it goes through -- would put the bank back on top with $542 million by adding in Wachovia's $136 million in spending.

Key three players
Confused? Take a number. But one thing is crystal clear. No matter which bank ends up as No. 1 either in deposits or marketing spending, it is certain that the retail-banking industry will now be dominated by these three players. Each is set to hold some 10% of total U.S. deposits.

A Citi spokesman said Citi and Wachovia will operate independently until the deal closes by year's end and, therefore, both brands remain intact for now. Chase has already said it will shelve the Washington Mutual brand as it goes about combining the two banking systems.

Even if Citi does rebrand Wachovia, its name will continue to be used on the brokerage it will remain holding, Wachovia Securities.

Neither the Citi spokesman nor a Wachovia spokeswoman could answer if or when either bank might begin advertising campaigns to address customer concerns. As of early Monday afternoon, the only signs of the deal on either website were press releases in each one's news sections. Wachovia teased the release on the front of its home page with the headline: "Wachovia announces bank subsidiary divestitures to Citigroup."

Only last week, Wachovia tapped WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather to serve as the Charlotte, N.C.-based marketer's lead agency, with Maxus for media planning and buying, Neo for digital marketing and Soho Square for specialty marketing services. Citi's account is with Publicis for creative; media is handled by Mediaedge:cia.
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