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Saving Wachovia will test temper of Steel

Durham native Robert Steel, 56, former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs and undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury, became CEO of Charlotte-based Wachovia in July. He has a big mess to clean up. The bank expected to lose nearly $3 billion in the second quarter. What kind of leader did it get?

“... A man of forceful personality and overflowing confidence, a driven achiever who liked having a clear goal.” writer Peter J. Boyer, The New Yorker, Sept. 4, 2006

“He’s very good at smoothing over conflicts and, when there’s tensions, bringing the temperature down.” Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, The Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2008

“He’s willing to tackle issues. He’s willing to take risks. … That’s what you need in these kinds of economic conditions because doing nothing is not an option.” Sheila Bair, chairwoman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., The Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2008

“Every day, the markets are full of rumor and trivia, and he has an ability to cut through that and get to what is the heart of the problem.’’ Rick Rieder, then head of global principal strategies at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Bloomberg, March 19, 2008

CHARLOTTEBank of America plans to cut 7,500 jobs from its mortgage, home equity and insurance businesses. It wants to eliminate overlap between recently acquired mortgage lender Countrywide Financial and BofA’s previous operations. No timetable was given.

HICKORYConvergys will spend about $4 million to open a call center by October. It will employ nearly 450. The Cincinnati-based company manages customer relations, information and human resources for other companies.

CHARLOTTE — McClatchy, a Sacramento, Calif.-based newspaper chain, cut 123 jobs at The Charlotte Observer and 70 at The News & Observer of Raleigh in response to falling ad sales. The Charlotte paper now has about 1,000 employees; the Raleigh paper, about 800.

CHARLOTTEDuke Energy bought Rutland, Vt.-based Catamount Energy for $240 million. The purchase will more than double Duke’s wind-energy production to 500 megawatts, roughly the same as a medium-size power plant.

CHARLOTTEKennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman was bought by Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates, which has 25 offices and about 1,700 lawyers around the world. Kennedy Covington employed about 175 lawyers in the Carolinas.

CHARLOTTEAlcatel-Lucent says it might close its plant here, idling about 225, if union representatives don’t agree to cost-saving proposals during the next four to six months. The Paris-based maker of telecommunications equipment says it would move production to a more cost-efficient plant.

CHARLOTTE — Steelmaker Nucor agreed to buy Auburn, Ind.-based Ambassador Steel, which makes concrete-reinforcing bars, for $185 million. The transaction is scheduled to close in the third quarter.

KINGS MOUNTAINChris-Craft laid off 15 employees, leaving it with about 70 here. The Sarasota, Fla.-based boat maker blamed the weak U.S. economy.