UPDATE: Nov. 12, 2020: Wells Fargo is considering selling a unit that provides store-branded credit cards and point-of-sale financing, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.
The bank has begun reaching out to possible bidders, Bloomberg’s sources said, but it’s unclear how much the unit is worth.
The potential maneuver marks an about-face from the bank’s stance from the mid-2010s, when then-CFO John Shrewsberry said Wells Fargo was looking to buildd its store-branded card portfolio. But the bank hasn’t cracked the top five in private-label card spending, according to the Nilson Report. While segment leader Synchrony holds about 40% of the private-label market, with Citi and Capital One trailing, Wells Fargo’s share of the market fell to 5.75% last year, the publication reported.
Wells’ store-branded card unit is just the latest business segment the bank has reportedly explored spinning off. Bloomberg reported last month that the San Francisco-based lender is weighing whether to sell its asset-management business in a deal that could be worth $3 billion. Wells Fargo is also reportedly considering selling a corporate-trust unit and its student-loan portfolio.
UPDATE: Oct. 27, 2020: Wells Fargo is considering selling a corporate-trust unit that could net the bank more than $1 billion, Bloomberg reported Monday. The bank is weighing whether to find a buyer for its student-loan portfolio, according to the wire service, which cited anonymous sources.
The corporate-trust business falls under the San Francisco-based lender's commercial bank, which serves companies with more than $5 million in annual sales.
Wells Fargo's student-loan portfolio holds about $10 billion. The bank told customers last month it would stop offering student loans, though it said it would continue to accept applications from current customers through January.
Wells Fargo declined to comment to Bloomberg on the potential moves.
- Wells Fargo is considering selling its asset-management business, Reuters and Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources.
- The unit could sell for more than $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said. That would go a long way toward Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf’s goal of cutting $10 billion from annual expenses.
- Wells Fargo began discussing a possible deal with other asset managers and private equity firms last month, but a divestment isn’t certain, a source told Bloomberg, which reported the bank expects to receive bids on the unit this month.
Scharf told analysts on the bank’s third-quarter earnings call last week he wanted to create some savings by exiting non-core businesses.
“I just want to be clear. We are exiting them because they are not core to serving our core customer base on the consumer and large corporate side. We are not exiting them because of the asset cap,” Scharf said, according to Reuters, referring to the $1.95 trillion limit the Federal Reserve put on the bank in 2018 in response to a string of scandals — most notably, one in 2016 in which salespeople created fake accounts to take advantage of incentives.
Asset management wouldn’t be the first area from which the San Francisco-based lender has retreated this year. In June, Wells said it would no longer accept auto loan applications from most independent car dealerships. And in April, it said it would temporarily stop accepting new applications for home equity lines of credit.
The bank had $607 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30, according to Bloomberg. That makes it a midsize player in the space — not nearly as reliant on the unit as banks such as JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, which each have more than $1 trillion in assets under management.
Morgan Stanley’s proposed $7 billion acquisition of fund manager Eaton Vance this month would catapult the former’s assets under management from $665 billion to $1.2 trillion.
Wells Fargo’s asset-management business offers mutual funds and retirement products, and is part of its wealth and investment management division — an already-shrinking part of the bank’s business model. Wells Fargo sold its retirement plan services business to Principal Financial Group last year for $1.2 billion.
However, the bank plans to maintain its wealth-management business that caters to high-net worth clients, sources told Reuters.
A Wells Fargo spokesperson declined to comment to the wire services.
To make up more of the $10 billion from annual savings Wells Fargo is targeting, it is considering cutting ties with consultants, which could save the lender up to $1.5 billion a year. It has also resumed a round of layoffs that could jettison tens of thousands of positions.