Wells Fargo CEO Cheers Wachovia Integration

Three years after a deal that transformed Wells Fargo, CEO John Stumpf came to Charlotte, N.C., Thursday to retire the Wachovia brand and rally employees whose future looked considerably less bright in 2008.

Wells Fargo bank
Paul Sakuma

At the height of the financial crisis Charlotte-based Wachovia was going down. A FDIC brokered deal to sell the bank to Citigroup was greeted with resignation.

Then Wells Fargo stepped in.

The San Francisco-based bank offered to buy Wachovia for $7 billion, a deal that, unlike Citigroup's, did not require government assistance.

The FDIC shifted gears, agreed to accept Wells Fargo's bid and a banking behemoth was born.

The acquisition doubled Wells Fargo's deposit and asset base. Wells now has the second largest deposit base in the country at $836.8 billion.

By assets it is number four among the large banks, although Wells' $1.3 trillion in assets are dwarfed by the $2.27 trillion of the largest, J.P Morgan.

Buying Wachovia also saddled Wells with billions of bad mortgages.

Still, by putting conservative marks on those loans at the time of the purchase, Wells Fargo has weathered the ongoing housing crisis better than some of its rivals.

Now the largest bank by market capitalization, Stumpf's visit to Charlotte celebrates the deal, even as the industry faces regulatory and economic challenges.

Watch the full interview on CNBC at 1:40 pm ET.