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Wells Fargo Would Face ‘Spillover’ in European Recession

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf
John Stumpf, chairman and chief executive officer of Wells Fargo & Co. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. home lender, would suffer some fallout from a renewed European recession even though it has very few holdings there, Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf said.

Direct exposure to the continent is “almost nil,” Stumpf said at a New York investor conference today. Still, “there will be some spillover” if Europe’s turmoil leads to another contraction in the region’s economy because it’s such an important trading partner, he said. Stumpf said the distress may make it easier for the bank to find acquisitions.

“We are still kicking a lot of tires,” said Stumpf, whose bank ranks fourth by assets in the U.S.

Stumpf, 58, helped lead the bank to profitability in 13 straight quarters. Wells Fargo won the biggest market share ever recorded in home lending during this year’s first three months - - 34 percent, according to trade journal Inside Mortgage Finance -- as competitors including Bank of America Corp. retreated from costs associated with faulty underwriting and foreclosures.

Wells Fargo’s share of mortgage lending rose from 30 percent in the preceding three months, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. It was more than triple the share of the closest competitor, JPMorgan Chase & Co., with 11 percent. U.S. Bancorp moved into third place from fifth, with 5.2 percent, ahead of Bank of America, with 4.2 percent.

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