Buffett urges Wells Fargo to look beyond Wall Street for CEO

The bank's biggest shareholder says hiring an executive from a financial institution would trigger criticism from Washington, Financial Times reports

Apr 8, 2019 @ 10:19 am

By Bloomberg News

Warren Buffett, the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo & Co., says the bank should look outside Wall Street for its new chief executive officer to avoid drawing criticism in Washington.

"They just have to come from some place [outside Wells] and they shouldn't come from Wall Street," the billionaire Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday.

Hiring the bank's next leader from Wall Street is "just not smart" because that's "automatically going to draw the ire of a significant percentage of the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives," he said.

The new Wells CEO "probably shouldn't come from JPMorgan or Goldman Sachs," Mr. Buffett added.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan abruptly stepped down in March amid pressure to tame a range of scandals. Hours before the company's announcement, Mr. Buffett said he backed Mr. Sloan "100 percent."

Mr. Buffett said Wells Fargo's competitive position remains strong, despite damage done by the scandal, according to the newspaper.

"One household out of every three does business with Wells one way or another," he said.

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