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Can a small-town Virginia banker fix Wells Fargo's board?

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan (L) listens as Chairman Stephen Sanger answers a question from reporters after the annual shareholder meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., April 25, 2017.

Phelan Ebenhack

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) will likely turn to a former community banker and Fed official to head its board as the scandal-ridden bank tries to restore its former reputation as a solid, plain-vanilla lender, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Betsy Duke, who only joined the board of the third-largest U.S. lender in 2015, will be promoted as Wells tries to repair damage caused by widespread sales abuses against customers. Shareholders gave the board a very thin endorsement at the bank's annual meeting in the spring, and Duke is likely to become the next chairwoman, said investors, analysts and two people with knowledge of board discussions.

Chairman Stephen Sanger reaches the mandatory retirement age of 72 in April, ahead of the next annual shareholder meeting. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported Sanger would now step down in early September.

That step would likely speed the ascension of Duke, a former small town banker from Virginia Beach.

Wells Fargo declined to comment. Sanger and Duke did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Some board members discussed making Duke Wells Fargo's chairwoman last October, when then-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf stepped down and the board decided to split the two roles, a person...