Buffett’s firm selling some of its Wells Fargo shares

OMAHA, Neb. — Warren Buffett’s company is selling a chunk of its Wells Fargo stock to avoid some federal regulations.

The sale isn’t tied to the scandal over the bank’s sales practices that led to its CEO’s departure last year, Berkshire Hathaway said Wednesday.

Instead, Berkshire said it’s selling the stock to keep its stake in the San Francisco-based bank below 10 per cent to avoid additional Federal Reserve regulations. It will said it continue selling shares as needed to remain below that threshold.

Berkshire’s holdings crept above 10 per cent last year because of Wells Fargo’s stock repurchases. Berkshire asked the Fed for a waiver that would allow it to continue holding its Wells Fargo shares without being treated as a bank holding company.

Regulators, however, said Berkshire would have to restrict its commercial dealings with Wells Fargo if it kept all the shares.

A Wells Fargo spokesman said the bank appreciates the confidence Berkshire has shown it over the years, both as its largest shareholder and as a large customer.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate said it has already sold 7.1 million Wells Fargo shares and will sell about 1.9 million more. That will bring its holding to around 491 million shares.


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