LONDON May 16 Wells Fargo, the world's
biggest bank by market value, this week opened an office in
Aberdeen to tap into oil industry business on Scotland's east
coast as part of its UK expansion.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said the office has three
people and is the latest step in a steady expansion in Europe,
Middle East and Africa (EMEA), where it now has 930 people, up
from about 600 at the start of 2012.
Most are in Britain, where it has 721 employees, and its
EMEA boss Jim Johnston said that will rise further.
"We've grown more than we expected in each of the last three
years ... we'll continue to grow because the customer base in
the U.S. and here has increasing activity with each other, and
we're hoping to gain market share," Johnston told Reuters.
The Aberdeen opening also suggests concerns that business
may be put off by uncertainty over Scotland's upcomng vote on
independence could be overdone. Wells Fargo declined to comment
on how the September vote might affect its plans.
Aberdeen has been one of the most buoyant areas in banking
in the past two years, built on business with oil, gas and
energy services firms based in the city. Wells' office is led by
Kendal Milne, a former Barclays and DNB oil
and gas banker.
Wells Fargo is regarded as one of the winners from the
financial crisis and last month reported record quarterly
earnings and its highest ever share price.
It last year became the world's biggest bank by market value
and is now more than $50 billion bigger than its nearest
challengers, including JPMorgan, ICBC and
HSBC, yet it is mainly a U.S. bank with a modest
"We're primarily a domestic bank but our American clients
are getting increasingly global. It's a consistent strategy,
it's following our customers here," Johnston said.
The bank does not break out its European earnings, but
Johnston said revenues in the region had grown by at least 10
percent in each of the last three years.
Its European expansion is mainly targeting wholesale
services for U.S. medium and large companies, and catering to
European firms active in the United States. Johnston said
Britain topped a survey of its customers two years ago of where
they wanted more services, ahead of Canada and China.
Most of the expansion is in areas where it is strong in the
United States, such as the energy industry and commercial real
estate. It bought $5 billion of UK property loans last year from
(Editing by Mark Potter)