Shares of Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo raised $11 billion in fresh equity yesterday by issuing common stock, down from the $20 billion it planned on raising to help usher in its pending acquisition of Wachovia
But, wait, does Wells really need the money? Didn't it just get $25 billion from the Treasury? And wasn't Chairman Richard Kovacevich opposed to taking those funds? Yep. That's where things get interesting.
You can hypothesize all sorts of reasons why the market took raising $11 billion as bad news. One, a flustered Kovacevich might use the funds to pay back some of the Treasury's injection, which would sort of remove it from the bailout crowd. That could be a good thing; freeing Wells Fargo from the stigma that accompanies accepting government funds. But you could also take it as the company getting too cocky with its relative health. It's sort of like ignoring your doctors when they say you need help … probably not a good idea in general.
Another issue with Wells Fargo raising $11 billion: It looks like the $20 billion it had originally planned on raising may have been out of its grasp. Given its market cap of less than $100 billion, and with shares under fire, issuing gobs of stock and hoping investors bite may have proved easier said than done. If scraping up cash by selling new shares were a piece of cake, Wells could always issue the remaining $9 billion down the road if and when markets mellow out. That it seems unable to at present just adds a layer of uncertainty to things.
A third fear is that Wells Fargo has realized how dire things are, and that it needs the Treasury's $25 billion and another $11 billion just to stay comfortably capitalized. If true, that's a scary realization for companies like Morgan Stanley
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