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Best Financial Borrowers

US: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is generally regarded as one of the best banks in the US, if not the world, at executing its mergers. Or rather, that's the reputation of the old Norwest team that took over the old Wells Fargo in 1998. Over the past 18 months that overall success has filtered down into the bank's bond market borrowing operations.

There are actually two funding entities, Wells Fargo Corporation and Wells Fargo Financial, which was called Norwest Financial until last year. The former is the bigger issuer, but that's not to underplay the latter, says Jake Gearhart, a vice-president in debt capital markets for Deutsche Bank in New York. "Norwest Financial was one of the best names in the business, and still is under its new guise."

Previously an opportunistic borrower of MTNs of no more than $300 million at a time, it has spent the past year moving over to liquid global deals. "We and Salomon lead-managed their $500 million inaugural global in February," says Gearhart. "There was no roadshow, the book was built very quickly, and 30% was placed abroad. That's unprecedented."

The corporation is not a very large borrower, having issued about $6 billion in debt over the past 12 months, not least because it has a large depositor base it can draw on.

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