Wells Fargo Agrees to Sell H.D. Vest Brokerage to Parthenon

Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. home lender, agreed to sell the H.D. Vest Financial Services brokerage and tax-advisory unit to Parthenon Capital Partners, a private-equity firm.

The companies didn’t disclose a price in a statement announcing the deal today. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo bought H.D. Vest for $128 million in 2001, and it had a book value of about $142 million as of Dec. 31, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Wells Fargo became the owner of the third-largest U.S. retail brokerage after buying Wachovia Corp. in 2008. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf, 57, has been revamping the bank’s wealth, brokerage and retirement business after calling it “sub-optimized” in December.

H.D. Vest supports a network of 4,800 independent tax professionals who are licensed to sell securities. The firm “does not align precisely with the business model of Wells Fargo Advisors, Wells Fargo’s retail brokerage unit, which is centered on supporting full-time financial advisers,” the bank said in the statement.

Wells Fargo will continue to maintain a separate network of independent advisers through its Wells Fargo Advisors, the lender said.

Wells Fargo used its investment bankers for advice on the sale and law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

H.D. Vest was founded by Herb D. Vest in 1983 and is based in Irving, Texas. Parthenon has offices in Boston and San Francisco.

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