> Warren Buffett Blog: Berkshire trims Wells Fargo stock for non-investment reasons

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Berkshire trims Wells Fargo stock for non-investment reasons

Berkshire has sold some of its stake — one-sixth of one per cent of the bank’s outstanding shares — only in order to end negotiations with the Federal Reserve over how to deal with the fact that Berkshire had become such a large shareholder of the bank.

As Wells bought back its own stock last year, Berkshire’s stake increased to more than 10 per cent, triggering scrutiny under the US Change in Bank Control Act.

“These sales are not being made because of investment or valuation considerations,” Berkshire said in a statement.

Those results will show how well Wells is coping with the fallout from the scandal in which its employees opened thousands of fake bank accounts. The bank’s net income is forecast to decline for a sixth straight quarter, down 4 per cent, in part because of mounting legal expenses and a revamp of its sales practices.

Berkshire has netted $500m from selling the sliver of its Wells stake, which has been one of the longest-held pieces of Mr Buffett’s $122bn stock portfolio. It will still hold just below 10 per cent and still be its largest shareholder.