Buffett boosts Berkshire's Wells Fargo stake to 10 percent

Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:38pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N: Quote) on Monday said it has increased its ownership stake in Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N: Quote) to 10 percent, a level that could mean increased federal scrutiny over the investment.

Berkshire owns 506.3 million shares of Wells Fargo, worth about $24.7 billion, mainly through subsidiaries, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The ownership stake has risen from 6.5 percent at the end of 2009 and 9.8 percent as of Dec. 31, according to Buffett.

Berkshire has paid close to $13 billion for its Wells Fargo shares, based on Buffett's shareholder letters and the bank's recent stock price.

Wells Fargo is based in San Francisco, and is the third-largest U.S. bank by assets.

"We value Berkshire Hathaway as a long-term shareholder and customer and appreciate the confidence that Berkshire's executive team has shown in Wells Fargo," a spokesman said.

The Federal Reserve exerts special oversight when investors take large stakes in banks.

In a September 2008 policy statement, the Fed said it often lets investors take double-digit bank stakes not designed to exert a "controlling influence," but would review any resulting business relationships "case-by-case."   Continued...

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Washington October 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque