SOURCE: ACG Los Angeles

May 06, 2008 12:17 ET

Richard Kovacevich Joins Speaker Lineup for ACG Los Angeles Annual Business Conference

Chairman of Wells Fargo Built One of the World's Largest Banks Through More Than 200 Mergers

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 6, 2008) - The executive widely credited for inventing the modern style of retail banking, Wells Fargo & Company Chairman Richard Kovacevich, will be a keynote speaker at the 2008 ACG Los Angeles Business Conference, to be held September 16 and 17 in Beverly Hills.

Mr. Kovacevich secured his position as an M&A (mergers and acquisition) superstar by successfully integrating two of the nation's largest banks in the 1998 acquisition of Wells Fargo by Norwest Corp., especially because he ignored the advice of consultants who urged him to slash payroll to show quick profits.

Having completed scores of acquisitions while building Norwest, and knowing that many more lay ahead to expand the combined banks -- eventually totaling over 200 -- Mr. Kovacevich followed his own strategy. A merger, he once declared, should not be "about expense reduction, but about revenue growth -- skill, not scale. You can't save your way to prosperity."

Prosperity, he believed, would result from changing the nature of retail banking to include a complete menu of financial services, offering bank customers everything from stocks and bonds to insurance. His focus on cross-selling has been a major factor in the continued growth and success of Wells, and has been emulated by many other banks worldwide. Wells, which has managed to avoid the mortgage-related problems of many other banks, reported first-quarter profits ahead of Wall Street estimates.

Mr. Kovacevich could have been wearing a different kind of pinstripes to work. An outstanding athlete in his youth, he was recruited by the New York Yankees. Instead he chose to go to Stanford Business School. He then joined General Mills, and later moved to CitiCorp where he rose to the top spot of its underperforming regional banking group, which he repaired through aggressive expansion.

He was recruited by Norwest as its president, then was named CEO and Chairman. He engineered Norwest's growth through numerous mergers, expanding into businesses outside of traditional banking. He has often described the $31 billion Wells transaction as "a merger of equals," not an acquisition. A decade later, Wells has nearly $600 billion in assets, sells a wide range of financial services through 6,000 stores (Mr. Kovacevich forbids the use of the word "branch") across the nation and on the Internet, and enjoys the highest credit rating of any bank in the nation.

Other keynote speakers at the 2008 ACG Los Angeles Business Conference will include political strategist and former senior White House advisor Karl Rove; ABC Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos; economist and former Secretary of Labor Richard Reich; and Joseph J. Plumeri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Willis Group, one of the world's leading insurance brokers.

The Conference will also host the nation's largest "Capital Connection," featuring more than 170 private equity and hedge funds, venture capital investors and other financing sources, which cumulatively have billions of dollars they are eager to invest.

Now in its 11th year, the ACG Los Angeles Business Conference is the premier West Coast event focusing on corporate finance and M&A activity for middle-market companies.

In addition to globally renowned speakers on business, technology and public affairs, the two-day conference features an array of technical breakout sessions where strategies and issues related to finance and corporate growth will be explored. More than 1,500 corporate executives and professionals from across the country and abroad are expected to attend.

Conference registration is $495 for ACG members and $645 for others. Information and registration is available online at or by phone at 310-426-9710.

The conference is presented by ACG Los Angeles, in association with ACG Chapters in Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, the 101 Corridor and the Silicon Valley, and the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) is the premier association for and about professionals involved in middle-market corporate growth, corporate development, and mergers and acquisitions. ACG's more than 11,000 members in 51 chapters are leaders in corporations, private equity, finance, and professional service firms who are focused on building value in their organizations.

Contact Information

  • Press contact:
    Alexander Auerbach
    Auerbach & Co. Public Relations
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    Scott Regberg
    Conference Producer
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