Wells Fargo & Co. is still in the mix for deals as General Electric unwinds its financial businesses, but signaled competition is tough.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the San Francisco-based bank is working “as closely as we can” with GE, especially for certain pieces of GE Capital’s portfolio that “fit neatly with our expertise,” Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry said on the bank’s second-quarter analyst call.
But he also indicated some rivals may be more motivated to get deals done. Bidders that aren’t banks, for instance, may be willing to pay more for lending businesses that come complete with systems and staff than banks like Wells Fargo that have their own platforms and would be looking to add customers to them, he said.
The sales of GE portfolios are “very competitive” since many potential buyers view them as the “biggest opportunity in a long time,” Shrewsberry said.
Wells Fargo bought $9 billion in property loans from GE alongsideBlackstone Group LP in the spring and provided $4 billion of financing for part of Blackstone’s purchase of the loans.
The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Wells Fargo was in talks to buy all or part of GE Capital’s big lending operation with $74 billion of loans to midsize U.S. businesses. The bank was among other bidders in talks with GE, people familiar with the matter said at the time.
Since then, GE has put chunks of that unit before potential bidders, including a $40 billion slice that includes businesses providing loans for equipment purchases and truck vendors, as well as leasing and asset-backed loans. Those operations, based in the U.S., would move GE toward its goal of shrinking enough to eventually petition to escape regulation as a systemically important financial institution by the Federal Reserve next year.
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