Warren Buffett Seeks Feds Approval to Increase Stake in Wells Fargo

Warren Buffet Fortune
Credit: Fortune Live Media @Flickr

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B), the multinational conglomerate controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett, is seeking the approval of the Federal Reserve to increase its stake in Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC).

Buffett’s conglomerate submitted a systems approval after its stake in the bank reached the 10% threshold, which requires regulatory review. Berkshire Hathaway found out that it crossed the limit in March when Wells Fargo updated its share count to reflect its stock buybacks. The conglomerate reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its stake in the bank reached 10% at the time.

Berkshire Hathaway has no plans to push for changes at Wells Fargo

In its application to the Federal Reserve, Berkshire Hathaway said it is “seeking permission to acquire additional shares of common stock of Wells Fargo for investment purposes.”

The conglomerate also indicated that it “does not have any specific transaction of dollar value in mind with respect to any such potential purchases.”  Berkshire Hathaway added that it hasn’t purchased any shares in Wells Fargo since October 21.

Berkshire Hathaway indicated in its application to the Fed that it has no plans to combine Wells Fargo with another bank or to push any significant changes to its Board, corporate structure or strategy.

Buffett remains bullish

The move showed that the Buffett remained bullish on Wells Fargo despite the fact that the back lost more than 18% in stock value over the past year— it traded from its highest price of $58.76 a share to its closing price of $47.03 per share on Friday, based on data from Google Finance.

Wells Fargo Stock Chart

Buffett first invested in Wells Fargo in 1989, which only shows his confidence in the bank’s management and strategy. Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in the bank is worth around $23 billion based on the closing price of the stock on Friday. The conglomerate reported in its annual report that acquired its stake in Wells Fargo at an average price of $25.46 per share.

Although the bank’s stock price declined over the past year, Berkshire Hathaway obviously still made a lot of money from its investment. Wells Fargo is the third largest bank in the United States in terms of assets.

In a statement, Wells Fargo spokesman Mark Folk said, “We are aware of Berkshire’s most recent filing. We value Berkshire Hathaway as a long-term shareholder and customer.” He also expressed appreciation to the conglomerate’s executive team for the confidence it has shown in the back.

Wells Fargo completes acquisition of GE Capital’s CDF

Yesterday, Wells Fargo announced that its acquisition of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF) business in Asia has been completed. The bank acquired CDF assets and 46 team members in Asia Pacific except Australia and New Zealand. Wells Fargo has operations in Asia Pacific, and expects to close the acquisition of CDF assets in Australia and New Zealand later this year.

“Asia is an important global market for the CDF business and our customers, and we’re excited to become part of Wells Fargo. We’re confident this will be a seamless integration, and we will continue to provide our customers with excellent service and support,” said Chris Wohlert, CDF Asia Business Leader.