Risk & Compliance

Warren Buffett Invites Fed Scrutiny with Wells Fargo Investment

After increasing his stake to 10%, the Federal Reserve may take a closer look at his dealings with the bank.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 29, 2016

Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, after disclosing he had raised his stake in the Wells Fargo, said he has no intention of changing the way the banking company is run. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve may now increase its scrutiny of Buffett’s dealings with it.

“The central bank reviews each double-digit investment on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, and scrutinizes those deals to ensure the buyers don’t get any unethical perks,” CNNMoney wrote. “It also doesn’t allow double-digit stakeholders to sit on a bank’s board.” Buffett is not presently a Wells Fargo director.

Regulators could require Buffett to seek approval f he wants to further increase his stake in Wells Fargo, now worth $24 billion, CNNMoney said.

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Buffett is taking advantage of low bank stock prices, according to Rafferty Capital analyst Dick Bove. “Bank profits were setting records last year, yet bank stocks are at their lowest point in years,” Bove told CNNMoney. “Warren Buffett sees a misvaluation.”

Buffett also owns 16% of American Express and smaller stakes in Goldman Sachs and U.S. Bancorp, although he has repeatedly said that Wells Fargo – one of his largest holdings — was his favorite bank.

“We value Berkshire Hathaway as a long-term shareholder and customer and appreciate the confidence that Berkshire’s executive team has shown in Wells Fargo,” a bank spokesman said in a statement emailed to CNNMoney.