Wells Fargo will acquire Strong Financial's $34 billion in assets under management— $7 billion in institutional accounts and $27 billion in mutual funds — in an agreement announced today. Terms were not disclosed, but recruiters who asked not to be identified speculated that Wells would initially pay less than $500 million and make additional payments to Strong based on how well it retains its assets. The name of the combined company hasn't been determined. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005. Wells' mutual fund assets would rise to $103 billion, putting it among the top 20 mutual fund companies in the country, according to a Wells news release. Bob Bissell, Wells Capital Management president, and Kirk Hartman, Wells Capital CIO, will oversee the investment teams in the combined firm. Dick Weiss, Strong's director and head of its investment department, will become a senior investment executive and portfolio manager at Wells Capital and will continue to manage separate account funds, said Strong spokeswoman Stephanie Truog. Kenneth J. Wessels, Strong chairman and CEO, will play an active role in the transition process, but his new position has not yet been announced, Ms. Truog said. "The significant resources and stellar reputation of Wells Fargo will directly benefit all our clients. We believe this combination allows us, together, to build a world-class organization focused on delivering value to our clients," Mr. Wessels said in a news release.
Wells Fargo to buy Strong Financial