Bank Watch

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf says he’s not focused on overtaking Citigroup

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, says the narrowing of the gap in asset size between his bank and Citigroup is something ‘I never even think about.’
John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo, says the narrowing of the gap in asset size between his bank and Citigroup is something ‘I never even think about.’ mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf is not paying much attention to the fact that his bank continues getting closer to replacing Citigroup as the third biggest U.S. bank by assets.

At least that’s what he told me Tuesday.

“I could tell you this in all honesty: I never even think about that,” Stumpf said in an interview with the Observer during a trip to Charlotte to meet with the bank’s employees and customers.

“Of all things I think about, that wouldn’t even enter the picture,” he said. “I know our asset (size). I don’t know their asset size.”

At the end of the third quarter, San Francisco-based Wells reported assets that stood at 96.8 percent of New York-based Citigroup’s. For comparison’s sake, at the end of the first three months of this year total assets at Wells Fargo equaled 95 percent of Citi’s.

The gap has narrowed in part as Citi has dumped unwanted assets. Wells Fargo’s assets are expected to grow further when it completes its planned purchase of $32 billion in assets from General Electric Co.

Wells Fargo has $1.75 trillion in assets, compared with $1.8 trillion at Citi.

“We never set out to be the biggest in anything,” Stumpf said.

“I think you get bigger by being better,” he said. “I don’t think you get better by being bigger.”

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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