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Citigroup Center or Wachovia Center?

Citigroup's purchase of Wachovia Corp.'s banking franchise -- but not all of Wachovia Corp., which will stay in the investment business -- puts the name of the Wachovia Center in doubt.

Comcast-Spectacor officials were meeting with their lawyers this morning, reviewing the likely impact of Citigroup's purchase of part of Wachovia Corp., which owns naming rights to the Sixers' and Flyers' home in South Philadelphia.

  "In our agreement, if the bank is sold, then the naming rights go to the new owner," noted Comcast-Spectacor President  Peter Luukko. That's why prior mergers turned the CoreStates Center into the First Union (F.U.) Center and then the Wachovia Center since 1998.

  But Wachovia hasn't been sold, just split up. (Like Mellon Financial Corp., which stayed in business as an investment company, but sold its branches to Citizens Bank a few years back.)

-- Comcast Spectacor's naming-rights deal is with Wachovia Corp., which will remain in business as owner of Evergreen mutual funds and Prudential and A.G. Edwards stock brokerage. 
  -- But Citigroup will take over most of the assets of Wachovia Bank, including more than 200 branches, and replace Wachovia as Philadelphia's top bank, raising the possibility Citi may want the naming rights if Wachovia wants out and Comcast-Spectacor is agreeable.
   Citi already has naming rights to the Major League Baseball Mets' new home, Citi Field, notes bank spokeswoman Christina Pretto. Re the Center, "at this point it is too early to know," said Wachovia spokeswoman Barbara Nate. "Details will be worked out over time."