Wells Fargo's systemic importance rose, says U.S. report

The Wells Fargo bank branch is seen in Golden, Colorado October 11, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (Reuters)

By Dan Freed (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co is the only large U.S. bank to become "significantly" more important to the global financial system in recent years, according to a report on Wednesday by a U.S. government research group. The Office of Financial Research, a financial stability watchdog housed within the U.S. Treasury Department, studied the systemic importance of the world's largest banks using 2014 data from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. It then assigned a score to each bank based on factors including size, complexity, interconnectedness and cross-jurisdictional activity, as well as how easily the products they offer can be provided by competitors. Regulators define systemically important banks as those whose failure could pose a threat to the global financial system. The report listed four banks as having become "significantly" more important: Wells Fargo, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China <601398.SS>, Agricultural Bank of China <601288.SS> and Bank of China <601988.SS>. With a score of 202.6, Wells Fargo was far from being the biggest threat to the system. By contrast, JPMorgan Chase & Co had a score of 494.7, which was the highest. Citigroup Inc , Bank of America Corp , Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley were also considered riskier than Wells Fargo, as they were a year earlier. But the Wells Fargo measurement increased 18 percent from 2013, much more than its U.S. peers. The systemic threat posed by a few, including JPMorgan, decreased. Starting this year, regulators will use the OFR's analysis to determine capital requirements for the banks studied in the report. A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately offer a comment. (Reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Edited by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Steve Orlofsky)