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Wells Fargo downbeat on CRE growth amid risk-taking at other lenders

Wells Fargo & Co. CFO John Shrewsberry said growth opportunities in commercial real estate lending will remain slim until the credit cycle turns and forces discipline on lenders.

"Until we go through a cycle, it's my guess that nonbank competitive behavior will price some things at a level that we're just not comfortable with," Shrewsberry said at a conference on Dec. 10.

Shrewsberry was reiterating a warning that he has made before about "late-cycle" behavior in the CRE sector. He has singled out aggressive practices by nonbank lenders.

Shrewsberry said Wells Fargo is the largest U.S. CRE lender but has become cautious and kept its portfolio "basically flat." The bank's commercial mortgages and construction loans fell about 1.6% from the year prior to about $141.86 billion at Sept. 30.

He added that he does not think the dynamic will change "until somebody doesn't get paid back."