Exclusive: Wells Fargo close to deal with buyout firms for asset management business

© Reuters. Wells Fargo Bank branch is seen in New York

By Joshua Franklin and David French

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo (NYSE:) & Co is in exclusive talks to sell its asset management business, which manages more than $607 billion on behalf of customers, to a private equity consortium led by GTCR LLC and Reverence Capital Partners LP, according to people familiar with the matter.

The divestment would represent the U.S. bank’s biggest shake-up since former Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:) Chief Executive Charles Scharf joined as CEO in 2019.

The exact price being negotiated could not be learned, but Reuters previously reported that Wells Fargo was seeking more than $3 billion for the unit.

The talks could still end without a deal, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Wells Fargo declined to comment. Chicago-based GTCR and New York-based Reverence did not respond to requests for comment.

The sale of the asset management business is one of many steps taken by Scharf to turn Wells Fargo around following a years-old sales practices scandal. He has been cutting costs and shedding noncore businesses. Earlier on Thursday, Wells Fargo announced a deal to sell its Canadian direct equipment finance business to Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Last month, Wells Fargo said it would sell its private student loan portfolio to a group of investors.

The bank is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Friday, and Scharf is expected to unveil a new strategic plan for the bank.

Reverence Capital, co-founded by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:) alum Milton Berlinski, and GTCR have been active in acquiring businesses in the asset management sector.

In 2019, Reverence bought 75% of Phoenix-based independent financial advisory firm Advisor Group Inc, while last year GTCR took a minority stake in Raleigh, North-Carolina’s CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, which valued the registered investment adviser at $1.25 billion.

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