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Wells Fargo In Talks To Sell Eastdil Secured

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Wells Fargo is moving toward a deal that would continue its work of trimming non-core assets.

The banking giant is in talks to sell investment brokerage Eastdil Secured to a partnership of Guggenheim Investments and Temasek Holdings, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, the Wall Street Journal reports. As presently constructed, the deal would also return an ownership stake to Eastdil's management team, including CEO Roy March, who would remain in that position.

The sale has been rumored for about a year — in July, the WSJ reported Wells Fargo was trying to sell Eastdil but hadn't found a buyer.

Eastdil specializes in investment sales worth more than $100M, and while its nationwide and global reach pales in comparison to more diversified firms like CBRE, it has substantial market share in top-tier markets like New York and Los Angeles.

That share has retreated in recent years due to a string of broker departures, most notably the New York team of Adam Spies and Doug Harmon to Cushman & Wakefield in 2016. Cushman has since passed Eastdil for the top spot in New York. Most recently, Eastdil Director of Investment Sales Doug Middleton left for an executive vice president position at CBRE in February.

The benefits of the deal for Eastdil would be twofold: shedding the strict regulatory environment that comes from being owned by a U.S. bank, and leveraging Temasek's connections in Asia to grow what has been a small part of its business, the WSJ reports. Because the deal has not been finalized, various particulars have not been worked out, but taking back an ownership stake would likely also provide a financial boost to Eastdil executives.

Wells Fargo has been shedding assets it deems nonessential since it announced the closure of 450 local branches in mid-2017, part of a $4B cut to expenses that is entering its final stages. The scaling back followed a blow to the bank's public image from the 2016 scandal over secretly opening accounts for its members to hit sales goals. A series of lawsuits for that and other issues has hurt Wells Fargo's bottom line.