Wells Fargo Open to Financing Other GE Deals

Features Dow Jones Newswires

Wells Fargo & Co. Chief John Stumpf said the bank may finance other General Electric Co. deals as they unfold, but he wouldn't make any predictions at a financial conference Friday about whether the bank would be a buyer.

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Mr. Stumpf, chairman and chief executive of the bank, said any deals could still be a "long way" off.

Wells Fargo recently announced its plans to purchase $9 billion in property loans from GE alongside Blackstone Group LP, which is buying $14 billion of property loans and real estate. Wells Fargo provided $4 billion of financing for part of Blackstone's purchase of the loans.

Mr. Stumpf said it "wouldn't even be appropriate" to say much about the remaining GE sales on the block as the conglomerate dismantles one of the largest U.S. banks, but said it "wouldn't surprise him" if the bank financed "something" for a customer.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Wells Fargo was in talks to buy all or part of GE's biggest lending operation consisting of $74 billion of loans to U.S. businesses. The bank was among other bidders in talks with GE, people familiar with the matter have said.

Mr. Stumpf added Wells Fargo is a "value buyer" and not likely to go into a bidding war.

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"If we don't do anything else, this is a huge win for us," Mr. Stumpf said, referring to the commercial real estate deal.

Mr. Stumpf said the San Francisco bank hadn't planned for the GE deal this year and it "came together fairly quickly." Wells Fargo examined the portfolio and chose the loans it wanted that are similar to its current portfolio on loan to value, pricing and locations—and in some cases the same customers, Mr. Stumpf said.

Wells Fargo's portfolio includes performing loans mostly in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. It has been building up its real estate operations in Canada and the U.K. over the past year.

The recent deal "was a win for Blackstone, a win for GE and a win for us," Mr. Stumpf said. "And a large, meaningful competitor [GE] exits the market."