Monday, October 6, 2008
Continuing with the Eddie Murphy part of my last post, the first time that I saw the building pictured above was in the movie Trading Places. It was the building owned by brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke, the owners of an investment firm in Philadelphia that traded in futures and commodities. They educated me and Mr. Murphy to the beauty of Wall St. and that how no matter how much money their clients made or lost, they would still get theirs.
At that time in my life, I am not even sure that I had even heard of Philadelphia or if I had, I had no concept of where it was. But as I got older and moved to the Delaware Valley region I was surprised to find that the building was actually a bank headquarters. I have forgotten what the name of the bank was when I arrived, but suffice it to say it the name has changed 3 or 4 times in the last 18 years.
I was always amazed that whenever the bank changed hands, they would change the name on the front, not by putting up some cheap plastic sign with glowing lights inside but by re-concreting the edifice and carving out the new name. Is there such a word as re-concrete? Anyway, I always thought this was really grand that the new owners would keep the original integrity of the architectural design of the building. This helped maintain an aura of stability for Broad Street Philadelphia in what has really been an unstable industry around the nation.
Word came last week that the name on the building may change again. I believe both Citigroup and Wells Fargo are trying to take over the banking interests of the present owner, Wachovia Bank. Originally, the FDIC had brokered a deal Wachovia to purchase many of their bad loans if they sold their banking interests to Citigroup. But then Wells Fargo and principal shareholder Warren Buffett came along and offered much more money for the whole thing. There would have been so much in fact that the FDIC would no longer need to spend any of its own money to cover the debt. A conundrum.
Well as is the way of all things financial where a dispute is involved, both companies have taken their case to court and I have no idea what the outcome will be. But I think that somehow, some way, the real Duke Brothers of the world are still going be able to get theirs.