UPDATE 1-Wells Fargo expands commercial banking in Canada

Tue Nov 6, 2012 1:01pm EST
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* No. 4 U.S. bank targeting 20 countries for growth

* Focus on serving U.S. customers abroad

* Foreign loans equal about 5 percent of total

By Rick Rothacker

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co is ramping up commercial lending and treasury management operations in Canada as part of an international expansion that will eventually reach 20 countries outside the United States.

The No. 4 U.S. bank by assets on Tuesday said it's adding wholesale business lines in Canada after receiving a license in September that allows it to make loans to and take deposits from corporate customers but not consumers.

Canada is the ninth country where the bank has increased capabilities to serve businesses outside the United States in a plan that will take about three years, said Rajnish Bharadwaj, Wells Fargo's head of cross border governance. The bank is targeting locations in Europe, Asia and eventually Latin America.

"Canada is one of our more significant opportunities," Bharadwaj said.

Foreign loans equaled about 5 percent of Wells Fargo's total loans and 3 percent of total assets as of June 30, according to the bank's most recent quarterly securities filing. Wells doesn't provide a breakdown by county, but Canada is in the top five, Bharadwaj said.   Continued...