Why is Judge Ramos pushing a Wachovia-Citigroup marriage?

by Kurt Schulzke on October 6, 2008

Under ordinary circumstances, a fight between Citigroup and Wells Fargo over Wachovia would be a good thing, benefiting Wachovia’s shareholders by pitting two prospective buyers against each other in a bidding war. Hence this Sunday statement by Wachovia:

“Wachovia believes its agreement with Wells Fargo is proper, valid and is in the best interest of shareholders, employees and the American taxpayers [however]. . . Citigroup is always free to make a superior offer to Wachovia.” (Courtesy WSJ Law Blog)

But these are no ordinary circumstances. The nation’s banking system would benefit, it seems, from an early resolution of the battle. Against this backdrop . . .

Judge Ramos is playing the game as if there is no banking crisis. Late Sunday night (really late), Ramos physically left his home in Connecticut to return to the State of New York in an effort to keep alive his earlier injunction against Wachovia’s negotiations with Wells Fargo. That injunction was vacated shortly before by a federal court judge. Ramos’ new injunction — courtesy DealBook — appears below.

All this raises the question, why does New York Supreme Court Judge Ramos go to such lengths to keep things up in the air? It’s not as if Citigroup has produced anything that resembles a binding commitment by Wachovia to sell. It has not. Is Judge Ramos putting his ego ahead of his country?